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Five Ways To Avoid Plumbing Disaster

Jan. 12, 2015
Some of the biggest, most painful plumbing issues come from drain clogs and leaks we tend to put off until they become dire emergencies. Here are the top 5 Ways to Avoid Plumbing DISASTER.

1. DON'T USE 'DRANO"
It is natural for drains to back up over time. Hair, soap scum, tissue paper, and other small materials will gather and bind up in the piping; imperfections in the drain piping like small sags or backward pitched pipes can accelerate this process. Unfortunately, there are chemically-based "unclogging" products readily available for customers to buy and pour down their drains. Although convenient, they can and will eventually damage the pipes. Products like DRANO and LIQUID PLUMR eat through the walls of your pipes resulting in the pipes deteriorating and having to be replaced. Drano is the most common of these caustic drain opening products. There are other ways to prevent back ups or unclog a drain without using dangerous chemicals. Ask a professional plumber for advice on this topic.

2. DON'T PUT FOOD SCRAPS INTO YOUR GARBAGE DISPOSAL.
While many garbage disposals can grind and pulverize food scraps with ease, the trouble starts after it exits the disposal. Food scraps don't travel far inside the drain pipe; when they settle inside the pipe, they start to accumulate and create a dam - eventually causing the water to back up into your sink. By the time a back up occurs, the clog in the pipe is usually severe enough that simple remedies (i.e. plunging) won't solve the issue. The common solution at that point is to disassemble all of the piping under the sink, remove the debris in the pipe and then use a sewer machine to cut through the blockage. As you might be thinking, this is expensive and avoidable. CORRECT! Instead of putting food debris down the garbage disposal, scrape food debris into the garbage or compost and avoid putting any of it down the drain. If your drain is already backing up, you should call a professional plumber.

3. DON'T FLUSH HAND WIPES, PAPER TOWELS, OR FEMININE PRODUCTS DOWN THE TOILET
This is similar to the issues mentioned in the first two points. A toilet has a large drain opening that tempts and allows people to flush almost anything down it. While the toilet will flush just about anything, drain systems are only designed to carry water and human waste. Other objects (the most common being hand wipes, paper towels and feminine products) eventually settle inside the pipe or get caught by roots that have grown inside the underground piping. Flushable is not equal to biodegradable and will eventually clog your piping. These blockages are usually more severe and can cause major damage because they occur inside the larger, main drain pipe. When these occur none of the plumbing in your home can be used. The repair costs for these clogs can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

4. DON'T LEAVE YOUR HOSE CONNECTED OVER THE WINTER
A connected hose over the winter seems innocent enough. However, most exterior hose faucets or spigots are now "frost free" which most people believe to be "issue free," which is not the case. Frost free hose spigots are designed and installed so residual water drains out after it is turned off. When the hose is connected to the spigot this residual water remains in the spigot and doesn't drain out. During summer months, this isn't a problem. During the winter months, the residual water in the spigot freezes and causes the pipe to split. Because of the design of the frost free spigot, the pipe won't leak until it is used again (typically this is on the first nice weekend in the spring). The spigot needs to be replaced and often times the wall needs to be accessed to make the repair. All of this can be avoided by removing the hose before winter arrives.

5. DON'T IGNORE DRIPPING WATER
Dripping water is a sign that things are going wrong in your plumbing system. Sometimes drips are seen and sometimes they are heard. In any case, don't procrastinate. The drip isn't going to go away; it’s a signal that things are going to get worse if they aren't addressed. Usually, drips start out as a minor issue that is easily fixed at a reasonable cost - mostly a maintenance issue. If left unchecked, the resulting damage and repairs could be extensive and expensive. Inspect the leak and call a plumbing professional if it is beyond your level of expertise.
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Thornton & Grooms
24565 Hallwood Ct
Farmington Hills, MI 48335
(248) 644-7810
MI Plumbing Lic. #: 8106666
MI Contractors Lic. #: 7100232
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