Making New Year’s resolutions can be a daunting task. Is your goal to lose weight? Exercise more? Read something daily? Keep a journal? Stick to a budget? The list of possible resolutions goes on and on and on.
With so many potential personal resolutions, you might not think about the health of your plumbing, but that should actually be near the top of your list! The majority of expensive plumbing issues happen as a result of poor maintenance and silly mistakes. Read through the following resolutions and see how you can treat your plumbing just a little bit better this year.
1. Check Your Water Heater. Water heaters are easy to forget about when they’re working well, but boy is it ever inconvenient when they go out. Typically a water heater can last over 10 years without any problems, but you can extend that even further by doing just a little bit of routine maintenance once a year.
The main thing to do is drain your water heater at least once a year. Completely remove all of the water, and with it, the sediments that have settled at the bottom. These sediments can keep your heater from warming up the water efficiently – putting undue strain on the heater as well as needlessly increasing your electricity bills. There are plenty of tutorials for draining your water heater online, but if you don’t feel confident enough to try, don’t hesitate to call an experienced plumber.
2. Save Water. One of the three “R’s” for being eco-friendly is to reduce your use. This suggestion is particularly important when it comes to water. You may want to call your energy company out to inspect your home. Some companies will do this for free and even give you things like water aerators and low-flow showerheads for free as part of their energy-saving initiatives.
If this is the year for you to buy new toilets, look into getting a low-flow toilet. It will still get the job done while saving you up to seven gallons per flush depending on how old your toilet is.
Additionally, you will save a whole lot of water (and potentially avoid other, bigger problems) by fixing leaky faucets as soon as you notice that they’re leaking.
3. Use the Trash. Your toilet may seem like the perfect way to dispose of little things—napkins, candy wrappers, spare change. (We’ve seen it all!) Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realize that toilets, the sewer system, and septic tanks are really only meant to handle two things: human waste and toilet paper. Anything and everything else can be a danger to your plumbing, your neighbor’s health, and the environment. Some common items that are thrown down the toilet that absolutely should not be are the following:
- Feminine products – yes, even tampons.
- Flushable wipes
- Paper towels
- Contact lenses
- Food – especially gum, grease, and hot liquids
- Dead fish
- Paint, solvents, cleaners – even bleach is iffy
- Dental floss
- Old medicine
You may be surprised that paper towels, flushable wipes, and feminine products made it on the list, but they just don’t biodegrade the same way toilet paper does. This can lead to your pipes clogging and getting backed up. Similarly, dental floss and hair can get stuck in the pipes and then grab onto other material as it passes by, which can cause a big, tangled up mess.
4. Prep for the Cold. We are already in the throes of winter, but there are still things that you can do to help your pipes make it through the next few months unscathed. Start outside and work your way into your house. Drain your outdoor pipes, faucets, and hoses, and turn off the water supply to those areas. Use insulated hose bib covers to add a little bit of extra protection to your outside faucets. On the inside of your house, wrap your pipes with insulation – especially in unheated areas of your home. Fix all leaks as soon as you suspect them, and install heat cables on especially vulnerable pipes to prevent freezing or breaking.
5. Consider Your Disposal. Like the toilet, the garbage disposal is one of the most misused items because things go out of sight and out of mind. While garbage disposals can technically handle chopping up those tough veggies and slimy table scraps, that doesn’t mean you should make them do it. Bits of food – especially fibrous vegetables – can wear down and tangle up your disposal, making it unusable when you need it most. Here is a short list of do’s and don’ts where your disposal is concerned:
i. Compost your organic material
ii. Throw as much as possible away in the actual garbage
iii. Use ice cubes to clean the disposal
iv. Run hot water 10 seconds before and after turning the disposal on
v. Put some baking soda and vinegar down it every so often to clean it
i. Put food down – especially fibrous vegetables, rice, and fatty foods
ii. Dump grease down the drain – it can solidify later on in your plumbing, which can cause some big problems
Even if you select just one item off this list to work on in 2020, your plumbing will be all the better for it. And if you do run into a problem with kitchen or bathroom plumbing, call in the professionals right away before the problem gets worse and affects other parts of the house.