Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Plumbing

Broken Pipe

Virtually every home-owner faces a plumbing issue at one point or another. From a clogged drain to a backed up septic system, plumbing problems can be extremely frustrating and expensive to fix. Take note of these common mistakes that can lead to an unexpected plumbing nightmare.

Mismatched Pipes

Many do-it-yourselfers will reach for the closest pipe of the right size and shape. However, it’s important to pay attention to the pipe’s material, as well. The most common mistakes when it comes to fitting two pipes together have to do with pipe size and material. When fitting two pipes of different sizes together, the proper connecting piece must be used to ensure proper sealing. The pipes aren’t properly fitted just because they hold together.

Another very common mistake is connecting a pipe made of copper to a pipe made of galvanized metal. These materials react to each other and the connection point will corrode very quickly, leading to leaks. A brass or other appropriate fitting must be used to connect these materials.

Improperly Using Your Garbage Disposal

Your garbage disposal is NOT synonymous with your garbage pail. Stuffing the wrong foods down your disposal can lead to it clogging or breaking altogether. Putting too much food down your disposal will cause premature wear and tear on the blades. A disposal is meant for small bits of leftovers, egg shells, coffee grinds, fruit rinds, and cooked meat scraps. Avoid putting corn husks, fruit pits, large bones, onion skins, artichokes, potato peels, pasta or rice down your garbage disposal.

It is important to always run cold water when using your disposal. Ice is an extremely effective and inexpensive method for cleaning your garbage disposal, sharpening the blades and breaking up any grease build-up which has accumulated. Just toss a few ice cubes into the garbage disposal and run it. As the garbage disposal chops into the ice cubes, the ice chips will effectively scour all the hard to reach areas of the unit, and melt down the drain. Try this once or twice a month to keep your garbage disposal in fine working order. NEVER, EVER insert your unprotected hand into the garbage disposal! If you must use your hand to remove objects and debris from the garbage disposal, unplug the unit or turn off the appropriate circuit breaker. Always wear safety gloves to protect your hand from the garbage disposals sharp blades.

Leaving Your Hose Connected All Winter

This common mistake can lead to serious plumbing consequences. When it comes to devastating indoor floods, a surprisingly large number of them are caused by frozen pipes which have burst. A vital piece of winter home maintenance is disconnecting your garden hose and, if you have a separate control, turning off the water which supplies the outdoor spigots.

Water expands when it freezes and pipes aren’t designed to accommodate this swelling. This expansion can lead frozen pipes to burst easily. Burst pipes can flood your home, leading to floor, wall and electrical damage. If a pipe bursts during the night and is not discovered until the next morning, thousands of dollars in damages will already have occurred. If the leak occurs in the walls or flooring of your home, the damage can be even greater, since the leak may go unnoticed for a longer period of time. Be sure to disconnect outdoor plumbing this fall, well before the first freeze hits Long Island.

Flushing Foreign Objects Down the Toilet

Most of us have a friend whose toddler thought it would be super fun to watch G.I. Joe go for a swim down the toilet bowl. Sending trash or other products down the drain can clog your pipes in a hurry, and potentially cause the toilet to overflow in a nasty and hazardous mess. It goes without saying, but NEVER flush anything but toiler paper and human waste down the toilet. Flushing things such as paper towels, cotton swabs, facial scrubs and cotton balls down the toilet can clog the drain pipe, which connects your toilet to the main waste line in your plumbing system.

Even if they may be labeled “flushable,” do not throw feminine hygiene products, personal cleaning wipes, toilet scrubbers, make-up remover pads or cat litter into the toilet. They don’t disintegrate quickly enough and can ultimately block the drain pipe.

Your Hot Water Heater is Outdated

The average life span of a hot water heater is 8-12 years. To avoid the predicament of being left with no hot water, or worse, a flooded basement, it is important to watch for signs that your hot water heater is on the verge of failing.

Unusual noises coming from your water heater is often a universal sign that it is not functioning well. A pool of water around the base of the unit usually means that you have a leak in your tank. Metallic smelling water is another clue that your system is breaking down and may need replacing. And the most obvious sign that it is time for a new hot water heater…you have no hot water. If you have a tank-style water heater, check the pilot light and circuit breaker. If the pilot is on and the circuit breaker isn’t tripped, it could mean that your water heater has reached the end of its useful life and will need to be replaced.

Reilly Plumbing can help you tackle all of your plumbing issues, no matter how big or small. Contact us today at (516) 867-2107 to schedule an appointment with one of our customer service representatives.