Learning some preventive maintenance—simple fixes and what to do in the event of a plumbing emergency—can help you escape water damage and cut down on (or avoid) costly plumber bills.
Here are 10 tips the pros save money on plumbing in their own homes.
1. Small Problems left Unresolved Become Big Ones Later It can be easy to put off fixing that dripping faucet or the drain that empties more slowly than it should, but ignoring minor plumbing problems is never a good idea. A quick repair might take a little time and money, but it can prevent major spending later. 2. Find your Shut-off Valve Finding your main water shut-off valve and learning how to operate it before you have a problem can help you avoid a chaotic (and costly) experience. 3. Toilets aren’t a Garbage Can The only object that should actually go down the toilet is #1, #2 and toilet paper. Items that are marked as flushable—wipes, sanitary supplies and cat litter, for example—can result in clogs and expensive plumbing repairs. Other seemingly harmless objects, such as hair, cigarette butts and even bleach, can damage your pipes, as well. 4. Screen out your Drains Something as outwardly inoffensive as the hair on your head can bring on a costly clog. Save money on a plumber by covering your drains with mesh screens to catch loose strands. Clean out the strainers weekly to prevent buildup. 5. Dispose of the Grease You may have learned that dumping cooking grease down the drain was okay, as long as you followed it with dish soap and hot water. Unfortunately, this mixture cannot prevent all grease from clogging your pipes and even your neighborhood sewage system. Instead, dump the grease into a sealable container and wipe pots and pans out prior to washing them. 6. Freshen up Unused Drains If you have a spare bathroom, basement floor drain or other drain that doesn’t get much use, it can start to get smelly. Prevent this problem by pouring some vinegar and baking soda into the drain followed by a hot water rinse every few months. 7. Get the Big Picture Hair, grease and flushed items aren’t the only things that cause costly clogs. Tree roots and rotten or collapsed pipes can be culprits, as well. Hiring a sewer service to check your pipes with a special camera can help you get to the heart of a recurring problem. 8. Opt out of using the liquid. It may be tempting to pour a jug of drain cleaner into a clogged sink, but pros know this can cost you more in the long run. Not only do these chemicals fail in many instances, but they can damage pipes, as well. Opt for an auger that snakes the clog out of the drain instead. 9. Warm up those Pipes Frozen pipes can crack and burst, leaving you with a mess and an expensive plumbing repair. Prevent this problem by insulating exposed pipes. When it’s cold out, leave cabinets under sinks open to allow warm air to circulate and let cold water drip from faucets. 10. Be Resourceful You might be surprised to discover that you can tackle some simple plumbing repairs on your own. DIY videos and tutorials online can show you how to perform basic repairs and installation. Knowledgeable employees at your local hardware store can be a helpful resource, as well. You may even be able to borrow the tools you need, saving even more on plumbing repairs.