Preventative HVAC maintenance to extend the life of your system

SLWA HVAC maintenance to extend the life of your system (1)

With a little extra maintenance, you can help improve your HVAC system’s efficiency and delay the time for a replacement. Simply keep these HVAC maintenance steps in mind to get more time of quality heating and cooling out of your system:

Ongoing HVAC maintenance

Make sure your cooling and heating units are always free of debris, such as dust, pollen, leaves, grass and tree branches. Check your thermostat daily, setting the system to your desired temperature and taking note of whether your home reflects the temperature on your thermostat. If they don’t seem to align, schedule an appointment with an HVAC professional to determine if there’s an issue with the thermostat or the system.

While you should certainly cool and heat your home to comfortable temperatures, avoid overworking your HVAC system. You can support it with easy ways to improve air circulation, such as ceiling and window fans, clean and clear vents and properly sealed doors and windows. Utilize blinds and other window treatments to further regulate indoor temperatures and make sure your home is properly insulated.

Seasonal and monthly HVAC maintenance

Conduct a visual inspection of your HVAC system to catch potential issues as early as possible. This is also a good time to clean the ducts and vents with a vacuum or cloth, clearing them of dust and debris buildup.

Remember that your filters need to be changed every 3 months. Clogged filters lead to poor air flow, which makes the unit work harder to achieve desired temperatures. Before starting, don’t forget to turn off the system before touching anything. If you have reusable filters, rinse them out with water, let dry and replace. Otherwise, buy the correct replacement filters. Follow these steps to replace your furnace filter, and check out these tips to make your air conditioning unit more efficient.

Annual HVAC maintenance

If you do anything for your HVAC system, let it be scheduling a professional tune-up once a year. Much like getting oil service for your car, these check-ins are critical for HVAC system upkeep. During annual services, HVAC professionals conduct thorough cleanings, flush drain lines and check for potential problems to make sure the system runs as efficiently as possible.

After scheduling your annual service, inspect all of your windows and doors to make sure they’re properly sealed. If you catch holes or cracking, take the time to reseal them with caulk or weather-stripping.

One-time HVAC maintenance

Consider upgrading to energy-efficient heating and cooling units to optimize your home’s energy consumption. Not only can this switch delay wear and tear on your system, but it can also save you money on utility bills each month.

When it’s time to purchase and install new units, conduct an HVAC load calculation to make sure they’re the proper size for your home. Oversized units are prone to malfunctioning, as well as reducing the indoor comfort level and energy efficiency of your home. A professional HVAC technician can help you collect the necessary data for the calculation, including room sizes, duct condition, home orientation to the sun, window types, insulation and regional weather conditions. From there, a computer program can determine the appropriate size for your home.

Being prepared before home repair issues arise is always a good strategy. Interior plumbing and water sewer line plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs. See what plans are available in your area.

Reasons to call a professional plumber

plumbing.pngNot sure if you need the help of a professional plumber? If the issue falls under one of these scenarios, you should definitely call a professional for expert help.

When the water pressure is low

If the water in your home isn’t flowing at its normal pressure, there could be a blockage or leak in the system, fractured pipe or eroded waterline. It can be difficult for the typical homeowner to pinpoint an issue like this. A plumbing professional can identify the source of low water pressure and advise on appropriate solutions.

When there’s no hot water

If your water isn’t heating up efficiently, it’s likely a water heater problem. As these units run on electric or gas systems, it can be dangerous to do repair work on your own. Similarly, if there is no water at all, call a professional to determine the cause. External plumbing, like your water sewer line, may also be contributing to the problems in your home.

When you notice severe pipe issues

If you think you have blocked, burst or frozen pipes, call a plumber immediately. Look out for signs, such as strange noises when the tap runs, sewage smells coming from faucets, lack of water or frost on exposed pipes.

Blockages are typically caused by sediment buildup or large debris in the sewer line. DIY attempts to fix these issues can cause more damage, resulting in a much larger repair bill. Even worse, a failed repair to a broken sewer line can cause issues for an entire neighborhood.

When you hear concerning noises

If you hear an extremely loud noise coming from the pipes, it may be a sign that something in the system is broken or about to break. If you hear a gurgling sound coming from the drains or pipes, it can be a sign of a clogged or compromised plumbing system. The sounds will likely appear when you’re using the toilet, shower, washing machine or dishwasher. If you hear these sounds, turn off the water immediately. This step will prevent the system from backing up into the house until the plumber arrives to inspect the issue.

When you’re doing a home renovation project

If you’re renovating the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room or other areas of the house that involve plumbing, make sure you get professional advice before starting the project. Relocating or installing plumbing-related items, such as sinks or dishwashers, requires the correct placement of supply lines and drains. A plumber can tell you if your renovation plans are feasible and ensure you have the proper permits. With that advice, you could save money on a potential repair or re-installation.

When you notice water damage

Look out for signs of water damage, such as leaks, water stains and mold growth. It’s ideal to catch water damage before the mold growth gets too severe, as the fungus is a health and safety hazard. A plumber can determine the source of the moisture and perform appropriate repairs to prevent further mold growth.

When DIY solutions aren’t enough

There are easy DIY fixes to many common plumbing issues, such as leaky faucets or clogged drains. Keep these plumbing do’s and don’ts in mind if you are attempting to repair the issue on your own. However, if the problem persists even after you’ve tried to fix it, a more serious problem may require expert plumbing knowledge to repair.

If you’re uncomfortable performing DIY plumbing, never hesitate to call a professional – even if it’s for a simple fix. A mistake could lead to a more severe issue, so it’s better to save yourself the hassle and get it fixed properly the first time around.

Being prepared before home maintenance issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs. See what plans are available in your area.

5 quick tips for lawn irrigation system maintenance

sprinkler

The grass is greener on the other side – but what if your lawn could be lush and green all over? With proper upkeep and maintaining your lawn irrigation system, it can be.

Keep your sprinkler and lawn irrigation systems in tip-top shape with these five maintenance tips:

  1. Practice routine upkeep

Ideally, check in on your lawn irrigation system once a month. At the very least, aim for twice a year, particularly at the beginning of spring and fall. Routine maintenance promotes proper water flow and yard safety.

  1. Examine the sprinkler heads

Clean out clogged nozzles, tighten loose screws and look for sunken, tilted or missing heads. Common signs of faulty sprinkler heads include cracked or broken casing, inconsistent spraying, or inability to pop up. Clean and reset the heads, or replace them if necessary. Adjust the sprinkler heads to make sure they spray the lawn, as opposed to giving the sidewalk or sides of your house an unnecessary shower.

  1. Look for dry spots

If there are areas of your lawn that aren’t getting enough attention, adjust the sprinkler heads to spray the dry spots with additional water. Alternatively, you may need to increase the coverage of your sprinkler system or adjust the valves to increase water pressure.

  1. Check for signs of leakage

Extreme weather, tree roots, or damage from sharp gardening tools may cause leaks in the valves and pipes of a lawn irrigation system. Repair or replace damaged valves and pipes at the first sign of leaking.

  1. Install a rain sensor

These water-conserving tools prevent your system from running when the ground is already wet and doesn’t require additional watering. Most new systems will automatically include rain sensors, but if you don’t have one, it’s a good idea to install one, as it will waste less water.

There are other potential causes of a breakdown, such as a blown fuse, a coil that needs to be replaced, or voltage issues. The five listed above are the most common and easiest to diagnose and fix.

Very Important: Call 811 before performing any repair work on your own. An operator will connect you with a local professional to identify and mark the approximate locations of your underground utility lines. That way, you can avoid hitting the lines and causing serious damage. Even simple fixes like replacing spray heads require digging, so always make the call before getting started.

If you find signs of damage during your maintenance efforts, call a professional to inspect your lawn irrigation system.

Being prepared before home maintenance issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from Sewer Line Warranties of America can help you pay for covered water, sewer and other service line repairs.

Water sewer line repair: DIY or plumbing pro?

sewer-pipe-closeupSlow draining, poor water pressure, leaks, wet spots, unusual noises: what is wrong with your plumbing system? The heart and soul of your plumbing system is your sewer line. What homeowners may be unaware of is that tree root intrusion, disruptive debris, worn materials or cracking pipes, can affect a home’s sewer line.

If you think you can perform a DIY plumbing sewer line repair, you might want to reconsider, as there are plenty of reasons to avoid do-it-yourself sewer line repair. Here are a few to keep in mind:

Lack of plumbing expertise

While sewer line repair is a relatively straightforward job, it requires the necessary knowledge, experience and equipment to perform the task properly. Along with understanding the process, a licensed professional knows how to choose the best materials and has the right tools and equipment to complete the job.

Additionally, plumbing pros have experience with public code requirements, which means they not only know which permits and approvals are necessary but also understand how to obtain them. If you complete a DIY project without a permit, you may risk penalties from your city or town, which may lead to hiring a professional to redo the work.

Potential for additional damage

When you don’t have the proper expertise and equipment, there’s a higher chance for issues along the way. Before you know it, a simple issue can become a more complex one that you’re unsure how to fix. Additionally, patch jobs, temporary fixes or poor-quality work may eventually lead to more serious problems and potentially higher costs. For most homeowners, it’s better to pay for the professional service upfront and avoid surprise costs.

Safety hazards

There are also health and safety risks to consider when performing sewer line repair or replacement. You risk exposure to methane gas, salmonella and E. coli, as well as accidentally hitting a natural gas line during the digging process, when working with pipes, according to Pipe Spy. These issues can cause damage and health risks to not only your property but also your neighbors’ sewer line.

Our answer to the DIY plumbing pro question is that unless you’re a plumber, don’t attempt to repair or replace your sewer line.

Being prepared before home repair issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs.

 

Common dishwasher problems and how to fix them

DishwasherProblems

When’s the last time you thought to clean your dishwasher? It may seem counterintuitive to clean an appliance that does nothing but wash and disinfect dishes all day, but regular cleaning is important for maintaining all of your appliances.

Here’s how to tackle common dishwasher problems:

Dishes come out dirty

If your dishwasher isn’t cleaning properly, it might be a simple issue that you can easily repair yourself. For starters, avoid overloading the dishwasher, as doing so can prevent it from cleaning properly. In addition, many times dirty dishes are the result of dirty spray arms. Clean clogs from detergent or mineral buildup, and remove small items that may be restricting spray arm movement. Inspect for the same buildup on the strainer screen or door gaskets. Finally, run a cleaning cycle without dishes.

If you still notice water spots or white residue on your dishes even after cleaning and inspecting your dishwasher, use a water softener or specialized detergent with rinse aid.

Dishwasher smells bad

Trapped food and grease can cause your dishwasher to smell even after a cleaning cycle. This problem has an easy DIY repair: Simply clean the filter, strainer screen and sprayer arms to get rid of the old and wet food. (It can be a dirty job, so consider wearing rubber gloves.) Run a cycle without dishes, using a dishwasher cleaner or disinfectant. To avoid future issues, pre-rinse your dishes to remove grease and large food particles before putting them in the dishwasher.

Dishes won’t dry

If your dishwasher isn’t drying properly, it’s likely an issue with the heating element. The easiest fix is using a liquid rinse aid in each cycle. If that doesn’t work, use a multimeter to check the high-limit thermostat, usually at the bottom of the dishwasher tub. If it’s malfunctioning, it can cause the heater to turn off before your dishes are fully dry. If this is the case, you’ll need to call in a professional to install a new heating element.

Dishwasher is cracked

If you find a crack on the inside of your dishwasher, your unit is likely at the end of its life. Cracks leave the mechanical parts vulnerable to water and soap, which can be a serious safety hazard. Unfortunately, there aren’t any DIY solutions to repair this issue. You’ll need to replace the dishwasher.

Dishwasher is old

Once your dishwasher reaches a certain age, repeat repairs and poor performance will eventually cost more than purchasing a new one. According to Sears, seven years is usually the cut off. At that point, it’s a better decision to invest in a new dishwasher, especially if the repairs will cost at least half of the unit’s original price. If you decide it’s time to replace, consider an energy-saving model. Energy efficient appliances are better for the environment and can help lower your monthly bills.

Being prepared before home repair issues arise is always a good strategy. Water sewer line plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs when problems arise. See what plans are available in your area.

Tips for fixing leaky faucets

Tips for fixing leaky faucets

There’s nothing worse than the drip…drip…drip sound of a leaky faucet. Not only is it annoying, but it can cause higher water bills. That’s why fixing a leaky faucet ASAP is always a good idea. With a few tools and the right advice, leaky faucet repair is a simple DIY project.

Keep in mind that the repair process will differ depending on the type of spout and sink, but you can follow these basic tips for most faucet repairs:

Examine the faucet

Before doing repair work, put on your detective glasses and try to identify the source of the leak. That once-over will determine what kind of repair needs to be done. For instance, if the leak is around the stem of the faucet, you’ll want to install new packing or O-rings.

Turn off the water

Always turn off the water supply before doing repair work. Look for the shutoff valves under the sink. Turn them clockwise until they’re tightly closed. Avoid using too much force, as overtightening can cause damage. If the valves aren’t under the sink, you’ll need to close the main water valves. These devices are usually located in the basement or near the washer, dryer and hot water heater. Once you’ve shut off the valves, turn the faucet on to release pressure and drain remaining water in the pipes.

Close the drain

You’re going to be working with small screws as you take apart the faucet, and you don’t want them to end up lost down the drain pipes. Avoid catastrophe by concealing the drain holes with covers or plugs. You can also push a rag down the pipe.

Be mindful of the parts

Pay attention to the order and orientation of the parts as you remove them. This diligence makes for much easier reassembly. To help you remember, set the parts aside in the order you removed them. You can also take photos or videos as you go.

Check the seals, washers and O-rings

Seals, washer and O-rings are often the culprits when a faucet starts to leak. Inspect them for obvious wear and tear, such as a flattened washer or grooves worn into the parts. If they look rough, replace them. Take the old parts to the store with you to ensure you’re buying the right replacements. Alternatively, replace with a washerless faucet to help avoid the issue in the future.

Clean as you go

Take advantage of this time to clean the parts before you reassemble them. Once parts are removed, clean all seals and interior cylinders. Check the interior of the valve for pieces of deteriorated gaskets or mineral deposits. Use a cloth to clean the surfaces, and loosen these deposits by soaking them in vinegar.

Never push down on the faucet

At the first sign of drips, you may feel inclined to push down on the faucet in an effort to close any opening and stop the dripping water. Avoid doing this as it can cause more damage to the faucet.

Consider replacing rather than repairing

If an old faucet is giving you issues, it’s usually a good idea to go ahead and replace the faucet altogether. Follow these steps to replace your faucet like a pro.

Slow and steady wins the race

Once you’ve finished the repair, you’ll need to turn the water back on. Expert advice from Lowes: Make sure the faucet is in the “on” position, and turn the water back on slowly. If the faucet is in the “off” position or there’s too much pressure applied too quickly, it may cause more serious damage, such as cracking the discs in the cartridge. Let the water run until it flows normally.

Being prepared before home maintenance issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs. See what plans are available in your area.

Top Do’s and Don’ts for Garbage Disposal Maintenance

pexels-photo-545021.jpegGarbage disposals are one of the most appreciated appliances in any modern home. As long as they are used and maintained properly, they can give you years of service and convenience. Unfortunately maintenance is often overlooked and many people don’t understand what should, and should not, be put in a disposal.

Read on for some do’s and don’ts to keep your garbage disposal running problem free.

  • Avoid buildups by running cold water through your disposal on a regular basis.
  • Run your disposal on a regular basis to help keep it running at peak efficiency.
  • Keep your disposal blades nice and sharp by feeding it some frozen vinegar ice cubes from time to time. It’s a great way to give it a nice cleaning, sharpen the blades and take care of strange food smells.
  • Try putting food items down in small pieces, one at a time, instead of shoving them all down at once.
  • Let the water run for up to 15 seconds (or more) after it has finished grinding so that it flushes the food down the drain.
  • Add a quarter cup of baking soda to the disposal and let it sit overnight once a week. The next morning, pour vinegar into the disposal to create a chemical reaction that will effectively clean the insides of your unit.
  • Use three to four tablespoons of Borax for smelly garbage disposals. Dropping in lemon or orange slices as the water runs will also clean and deodorize the pipelines.
  • Check the disposal for fallen items like spoons, bottle caps, jewelry and other small things before running the disposal. For safety purposes, always use tongs rather than hands to retrieve items that may have fallen into the garbage disposal.

DON’T….

  • Overload your disposal as it may cause clogs.
  • Put in anything that in your disposal that isn’t food, like glass, plastic, metal, paper, cigarette butts, wood, sponges or anything that might be combustible.
  • Throw in large bones, coffee grounds or harsh chemicals. Many of these chemicals damage the blades and can even eat away at the pipes.
  • Pour any oil, fats, or grease in your disposal. It could accumulate around the blade system and clog your drains.
  • Throw in foods with fibrous materials, starchy consistencies, or expanding capabilities like celery, cornhusks, artichokes, onion skins, rice and pasta, or potato peels.
  • Use hot water to flush the disposal. It can cause the grease to liquefy and clog the drain.
  • Reach into the garbage disposal. Never, ever put your hands into the disposal unit. Instead, you can safely use needle-nose pliers, tongs or even a bent coat hanger to pry out whatever fell in.
  • Call a plumber without resetting first if the unit isn’t working. If that doesn’t work, check to make sure it’s still plugged in and receiving power. If the power is still flowing in, you can then try hand cranking it.
  • Put eggshells in the garbage disposal because the thin membrane on the inside of the shell can wrap itself around the blade of the disposal and begin clogging your drain.
  • Throw in fruit pits from avocados, peaches, mangoes, apricots, plums or other similar fruits.

Need some help diagnosing a problem garbage disposal? If your drain is smelly then check out this guide to help keep your drains smelling fresh!

Don’t get caught off guard if a malfunctioning garbage disposal causes bigger plumbing problems.

To find out how to help protect yourself in the event of a home repair emergency, visit www.slwofa.com.

Tips to keep drain odors away

water-kitchen-black-design.jpgThere’s no question: household drains do a lot of dirty work in your home. They flush away cooking scraps you put in the garbage disposal, they move water away from your foundation, and handle everything your laundry room and bathroom can spout at them. Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take to keep odors at bay.

Check your pipes for obstructions – If your drain pipes are stopped up with food and other debris, they may smell bad. This is because the clogged matter begins to decay in the pipe while it stays lodged somewhere along the plumbing. A plunger or plumbing snake can help resolve the clog.

Kitchen drains are not the only ones prone to nasty odors—bathroom drains can smell, too. These odors are most often caused when hair gets washed down and trapped in your pipes, which slows draining and subsequently allows odors to take hold. You can get shower and bathtub strainers at any home improvement, hardware, or plumbing supply store—these work pretty well in keeping hair and other debris out of your bathroom plumbing.

Schedule routine maintenance – As mentioned above, it is natural for a drain pipe to smell bad. But merely resolving the issue once won’t keep the stench away forever. Once a week (make it a regular part of your weekly cleaning schedule), pour boiling hot water down your drains. For a long-term solution, make sure to have a professional check your pipes on a regular basis to ensure that they perform their duties at optimum effectiveness, and keep nasty debris from accumulating and stinking up your plumbing.

Pick your style of deodorizing – Every household seems to have its own remedy for stinky drains and many of them are quite effective. Some use the simple method of dousing drains with white vinegar, boiling water, or essential oils with boiling water, while others favor a mix of soap or baking soda with lime, or even ice and rock salt. You can truly take your pick.

One of the most effective solutions we’ve found makes use of vinegar and lime. Here are a couple tips on how to use this method to clean your drains:

  • Fill an ice tray halfway with vinegar, then drop a wedge of lime in the center of each cube. Once frozen, dump these vinegar-lime ice cubes into your garbage disposal system to clean your unit’s blades and the drain pipes while replacing foul odors with a citrus-fresh scent.
  • If your sink doesn’t have a disposal system, you can mix vinegar and lime juice together and pour down the drain to flush the bad smells out of your pipes. Be sure to rinse afterwards with hot water.

Use a drain screen – If you do not use an in-sink garbage disposal system, you should consider using a screen over the sink drain and other drain holes. This will prevent any solid matter from entering your drain pipes, keeping it free of gunk and grime.

Go easy on your drains – Be mindful of what you dispose of in your drains. Do not pour grease, chemicals, paints, or adhesives down the sink. Try not to dispose of food in the sink that could get clogged in the pipes. Remember, any decaying matter in your plumbing line may cause your drains to smell bad. Often times a dishwasher can be a culprit – if your dishwasher isn’t draining please read this!

To find out how to help protect yourself in the event of a home repair emergency, visit www.slwofa.com.

 

Early Recognition: Helping to Avoid Big Home Repairs

Repairman Repairing OvenSometimes costly, large-scale home repairs can be avoided by recognizing early warning signs. Especially when it comes to HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems in our home. Here are five common signs of potential home repair problems and what they mean:

 

Sewer line and drainage problems

When more than one drain in your home has started to work improperly, this is likely a sign there is a problem with the external line that connects to the street. There are many possible causes for a backup or blockage. Tree roots may have found their way into the sewer line or a foreign object has blocked the flow or, worst-case scenario, your sewer line has broken completely. No matter which of these issues is occurring, you should contact a plumber immediately. If it is something as simple as a root intrusion or a foreign object, the plumber may be able to remove them or complete a small spot repair before the problem gets worse. This could potentially save you the thousands of dollars it will cost to have the line replaced completely.

Water line leaks

Most people use about the same amount of water every month. If you notice a sizable increase in your bill and you haven’t modified your usage – filling a pool or increasing your outdoor watering – this could signal you have a problem. One of the first things to do is examine all of your fixtures. Dripping faucets and leaking toilets can waste a lot of water over the period of a month. Though you can visibly see a faucet dripping, the leaking toilet may be a little harder to detect. Dye testing your toilet is an effective way of checking for leaks. Once you locate the source of your problem, you can address it directly and avoid any further increased water bills.

If all of your fixtures seem to be in good working order after the visual and dye testing, and there are no other visible signs of water leakage in your house, i.e., mold spots, water dripping down walls or between floors, or warped drywall/ceilings, then it is time to contact your water company. You may be experiencing a leak on your external water line. The water company will typically send someone out to test your line and verify if there is a water line leak.

Service line troubles

Do you have patches of lawn that have suddenly become greener than the fairways at the local golf course? This can often be a sign that you have a leak in one of your external lines. When either a water or sewer line leaks into the surrounding soil, the grass is provided extra water or nutrients, resulting in a more green and luxurious appearance. If you are experiencing this, it is a good idea to have your buried service lines checked. The water company will typically check for a leak on their line. If no leak is found on the water line, contact a local licensed plumber to inspect the sewer line.

Maintaining and monitoring your plumbing is a must. A majority of Americans cannot afford a major plumbing expense if the problems become too severe, and Millennials are even less prepared. By keeping tabs on your plumbing, and having a home repair or home warranty plan, you can possibly prevent the financial burden of catastrophic plumbing failures.  Fixing a service line is a costly home repair.

Heating and air conditioning trouble

Every HVAC system makes noise, but if you notice a change in these noises, including bangs, squeaks, and creaks, it may be time to have your unit looked at. These sounds could indicate that you have a bearing or belt going out, or worse.

If your home is heating or cooling unevenly, and you have checked to make sure the vents are open and there are no structural issues with the home, it may be a sign that there are heater or air conditioner problems. This could also be a sign that there is a problem or leak with your ductwork. Another common cause of this is the location of your thermostat. A thermostat may be located in a position that does not allow it to gauge the temperature of the entire space, such as near a vent or in a smaller space of the home, causing your HVAC unit to shut off before the entire space has been adequately heated or cooled.

Shockingly simple electrical repairs

Lights that flicker in the home may be a symptom of a bad or loose light bulb, but if replacing the bulb does not solve the problem it may be due to an issue within the light fixture itself, or the wiring to the fixture. If this problem is occurring across multiple fixtures in the home, it is time to contact an electrician as the likely cause is faulty wiring within the home and this is a home repair you probably don’t want to try to do yourself.

Circuit breakers may occasionally trip if you have overloaded a circuit, but in the event the breaker is constantly tripping, even with just single lamp or fixture plugged into it, the breakers may have worn out and are no longer usable. Use caution while doing anything with the breaker panel, as power still flows to the unit, even with the main break.

To find out how to help protect yourself in the event of a home repair emergency, visit www.slwofa.com.

5 Plumbing Tips You Should Know

5 Plumbing Tips You Should Know

When faced with a plumbing issue, there are many DIY plumbing fixes a homeowner can try before calling in a professional. Check out these plumbing “myths” for the best ways to deal with a clogged sink, flushable wipes and more.

  1. “Use hot water to flush down grease.”

This is a common misconception. Grease sticks to pipes, drains and hot water. Even boiling water doesn’t remove grease or help it ‘flush’ down your drain. When hot water cools over the grease, the grease hardens and it actually creates a thick coating inside of your pipes. This can cause long-term issues, including backed-up or even burst pipes. Instead, wipe the grease out of pans or pour it into a disposable jar and place in the garbage.

  1. “Clogged sink? I’ll just use the plunger.”

Not so fast. DIY blockage-unclogging is not as straightforward as you may first think. It may also prove to be hazardous. After a few unsuccessful tries with the plunger, you may think that pouring a household chemical cleaner or drain cleaner into the sink is the logical next step. After waiting and seeing that nothing has happened, you may then reach for your plunger again. Here’s where you really need to be careful! Splash-back from plunging can cause irreversible skin damage, and if contact is made with the eyes, it can cause blindness. NEVER use a plunger after using a chemical to clear a blockage. Always use a plunger in a safe way — without any chemical agent.

Consider making your own natural drain cleaner using a half cup of baking soda and vinegar, which is much less harsh than chemical cleaners.

Something to be aware of: even if you are using a plunger safely, but you have a double sink, once the blockage is dislodged, the pressure from plunging can actually cause the blockage to come up the other drain. To prevent this, be certain you’ve covered the second drain opening completely with duct tape. Unblocking one drain to simply block another will give you more than you bargained for.

  1. “It’s okay to flush if it fits down the pipe.”

Wrong. Just because the object might seem to fit down the pipe, it does not mean it’s OK to flush. Take articles, such as scraps of food or female sanitary products, for example. These objects could fit down a sink or toilet from the entry point, but in reality, most pipes are no more than 4” wide. So, flushing even small bits of food down the sink can result in a buildup of debris and risks a clog in the piping.

In a similar way, female sanitary products may disappear down the pipe but then quickly absorb water and expand. This may cause blockages, which can lead to bigger drainage problems for the whole plumbing system. It’s always best to remember that unless it’s a liquid (not grease or oil), then it’s always best to use your trash can to dispose of such items.

  1. “Flushable wipes are flushable.”

Not as obvious as it sounds. Most wipes, including ones advertised as flushable, really cannot be eliminated by the sewer or septic system. The fact is, they just do not break down fast enough to truly be flushable. Consumer Reports’ own study agrees. Mixed with other debris, they can snag on pipes and block the system, causing serious damage. Toilets are designed to remove human waste. Use your trash can for everything else.

  1. “Pipes can handle all my weekend guests.”

Think again. You might be able to handle an overflow of house guests and in-laws, but your sewer or septic line might not be. This line conducts all waste water from your home, including the kitchen, showers, AND toilets.

So, if you have extra guests staying over for an extended period of time, ensure that everyone staggers shower and bathroom time to make certain that the lines have enough time to clear (this is especially important if you have slow drains.) By asking your guests to be mindful with their water usage during their stay, you can help you save yourself a stinky, soppy backyard, or a flooded basement.

Knowledge is power. Now that you are aware of these common plumbing myths, you have the knowledge to keep your plumbing, water line and sewer/septic lines flowing as they should, and hopefully protect your home against unpleasant and costly issues.

To find out how to help protect yourself in the event of an in-home plumbing emergency, visit www.slwofa.com.