DIY Preventive Plumbing Tips
Of all the do-it-yourself chores a homeowner may face, plumbing is perhaps the one most dreaded. Why? It often involves working in an awkward position, being exposed to grunge built up in drains, and especially uncertainty of outcome. A mistake in fixing a plumbing problem can be a disaster. That is why people are hesitant to take care of plumbing problems themselves, even though the cost of a professional plumber is high. But in fact, there are many things a homeowner can do to prevent a serious plumbing problem from developing. Prevention is the key to keeping your bills for plumbing under control. Here are some tips to help you.
Clogged drains are the number one problem you are likely to have. How can this be avoided? Simply by being careful what you put down the drain, especially in the kitchen. Use a good drain strainer, and empty it when it accumulates food debris. Take a paper towel and wipe out the oil from a frying pan before washing it. Treat your drains with a drain-clearing liquid on a regular basis--at least every six months. Read the label on commercial products to make sure they will not damage your pipes. You can also concoct your own drain-clearing product using a combination of vinegar and baking soda. This is the same thing used to make those volcanoes in your middle school science class. It is a volatile combination, but can be used effectively to clean out drains. A proactive dose of baking soda poured down the drain every so often will help keep clogs from forming and prevent bad odors coming from drains.
In the bathroom, hair is the likely source of a clogged drain. Get in the habit of clearing the hair from the drain strainer after each shower, and you are unlikely to have a problem with the drain clogging. But again, pour a drain-clearing product down the bath drain every six months as a preventive measure. Another benefit of this is that drains that are clear are less likely to freeze in sub-zero weather.
If you do have a badly clogged drain, the roto-rooter type of service can effectively clear it, and will usually guarantee the drain will not clog again for at least a year. You can buy a plumber's snake, a cable to push through the clogged drain, but this is a messy job, and the professionals have better equipment.
Check faucets for leaks. Replace the washers on a dripping faucet right away. You do not want to waste water--nor pay a high water bill. Replacing a faucet washer is something most homeowners can do themselves. Kitchen faucets that combine hot and cold water can be difficult to replace the washers in, because of tiny springs. But now you can often buy an insert with the whole mechanism, rather than taking the old one apart and putting it back together.
So take charge of preventing plumbing problems in your home. It will mean fewer visits, at $85 an hour, from a professional plumber.