How to Prevent Common Kitchen and Bath Plumbing Problems
Your kitchen and bathroom depend on the functionality of your plumbing system. But as any homeowner knows, a lot can go wrong: clogs, leaks, water backup, leaky valves. Any of these could create havoc throughout the system, sometimes leading to costly water damage to your home. Follow a few smart preventive steps to help keep plumbing in good working order:
- Know the location of your main water cut off. In the event of a plumbing problem, cutting off the water flow from your municipality can save you from costly property damage.
- Minimize the risk of clogs by keeping kitchen drains clear. Don't pour coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, solid food bits or grease down the sink. Use a paper towel to remove grease from cooking tools and pour any excess into a used container with a screw top before disposing in the trash.
- In the bathroom, remove hair and other debris from sinks and tubs and dispose of it in wastebaskets. Never flush cotton swabs, scrub pads, diapers, sanitary products or similar items down the toilet; these items don't dissolve and can clog pipes.
- Drains that are seldom used can eventually have their taps dry out, leading to foul odors in your home. An easy remedy? Just pour ½ gallon of water in the drain to keep the water seal in the trap.
- Keep hard-to-grind items — chicken bones, banana peels, raw vegetables — out of your garbage disposal. Turn on the disposal before adding food waste, and let hot water run about 15 seconds; this will help flush waste down the main line.
- Clean your garbage disposal regularly by adding several handfuls of ice cubes into the disposer with the water running. This dislodges slime from inside. Follow this with half an orange or lemon for a fresh scent.
- Once a month, fill your sinks to the top with water, then release it to flush your pipes. Pull out bathroom sink stoppers and clean off any buildup.
When Should You Call a Plumber?
- If water isn't draining out of any of your sinks, toilets or dishwasher (that points to a main line problem rather than just localized blockage)
- If water isn't draining out of sinks, tubs or toilets on one side of the home (that also points to a main line problem)
- If you hear water running, but no faucets or valves are open
- If your water bill spikes without explanation
- If your toilet gurgles, or if bubbles come up after flushing
- If a toilet remains stopped up even after you've used the plunger several times
- If your dishwasher isn't draining, even though the door is latched
- If you spot a leak anywhere – water leaks won't get better on their own.
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