Sometimes in life, we can make an “oops,” and it’s not a big deal. If you smudge your freshly painted nail polish, forget to pack a toothbrush, or accidentally spill a gallon of milk on the floor… it can be frustrating, but life goes on without much impact.
However, if you make a mistake with your plumbing system, things can get overwhelming real quick. From leaky faucets to clogged drains, plumbing issues can quickly turn into expensive nightmares if not handled properly.
Today, we’ll explore common plumbing mistakes that homeowners often make and provide you with essential tips to avoid them. By learning from these pitfalls, you can save yourself time, money, and stress down the line.
Plumbing Mistakes for Homeowners to Avoid
Whether you’re a brand new homeowner or you’ve been doing this for a long time, you may be unfamiliar with certain plumbing mishaps that can cause big headaches. Often, our plumbing systems are out of sight and out of mind, so you may not be familiar with the appropriate levels of maintenance or care. Let’s take a closer look at plumbing mistakes that often get made so that you can avoid them.
1. Ignoring Leaky Faucets
A dripping faucet may seem like a minor annoyance, but it’s a plumbing issue that shouldn’t be ignored. Not only does it waste water and increase your utility bills, but it can also lead to:
- Mold growth
- Structural damage
Instead of ignoring it, replace worn-out washers and seals promptly to prevent further damage.
You can also buy a leak-detecting system (often for under $100) to attach to your sink. The system will sense a leak you maybe didn’t notice and notify you of it so that you can get it fixed.
2. Misusing Chemical Drain Cleaners
Chemical drain cleaners might promise quick fixes for clogged drains, but they can actually cause more harm than good. These harsh chemicals can erode pipes, damage enamel finishes, and harm the environment. Instead, use a plunger, drain snake, or natural solutions like baking soda and vinegar to clear clogs effectively without causing damage.
If you’re still dealing with a pesky clog after trying safe at-home methods, then it’s time to call a plumber.
3. Overtightening Connections
It’s easy to assume that tighter is always better, but when it comes to plumbing connections, overtightening can lead to cracked pipes and leaks. Over-tightening fittings can also strip threads and make future repairs difficult. Use the appropriate tools and follow manufacturer guidelines to ensure a snug, but not overly tight, connection.
4. Neglecting Regular Maintenance
One of the biggest plumbing mistakes homeowners make is neglecting regular maintenance. Inspect your plumbing system periodically for signs of leaks, corrosion, or slow drains. Regular maintenance can catch minor issues before they escalate into major problems, saving you both money and headaches in the long run.
If you have an older plumbing system, you may benefit from signing up for a regular plumbing maintenance program through a local trusted plumber.
5. Flushing Things That Aren’t Toilet Paper
Flushing anything other than toilet paper and human waste down the toilet can lead to clogs and sewer backups.Certain items don’t break down easily and can cause serious blockages, such as:
- Paper towels
- Feminine hygiene products
Keep a small wastebasket in the bathroom to encourage proper disposal.
6. DIY Water Heater Repairs
Water heaters are complex systems that should be handled by professionals. Attempting DIY repairs without proper knowledge can lead to scalding, gas leaks, or even explosions. If your water heater is acting up, it’s best to call a licensed plumber to diagnose and fix the issue safely.
7. Not Knowing the Location of Shut-Off Valves
In case of a plumbing emergency, knowing the location of shut-off valves is crucial. Whether it’s a leaking pipe or an overflowing toilet, shutting off the water supply quickly can prevent further damage. Familiarize yourself with the main shut-off valve and individual fixture valves in your home to be prepared for any situation.
8. Using Excessive Water Pressure
High water pressure might feel luxurious, but it can put stress on your pipes and fixtures, leading to leaks and bursts. Use a water pressure gauge to ensure the pressure is within a safe range (typically between 40-80 psi). If your pressure is too high, consider installing a pressure regulator to protect your plumbing system.
9. Neglecting Outdoor Plumbing
Outdoor plumbing, such as garden hoses and sprinkler systems, can be easily forgotten. Make sure to disconnect and drain hoses before winter to prevent freezing and bursting. Inspect outdoor faucets and pipes for leaks or damage as part of your regular maintenance routine.
10. DIY Pipe Thawing
Frozen pipes are a common concern here in Minnesota and other cold climates, but attempting to thaw them using heat sources like blowtorches or hot water can cause pipes to burst due to rapid expansion. If you encounter frozen pipes, it’s best to call a professional plumber who can safely thaw them and prevent further damage.
Have a Trusted Plumber on Speed Dial
Avoiding these common plumbing mistakes can save you not only money but also the stress and inconvenience of dealing with plumbing emergencies. By being proactive, practicing regular maintenance, and knowing when to call in a professional, you can ensure that your plumbing system remains efficient and reliable for years to come. Remember, a little prevention goes a long way in keeping your home’s plumbing in tip-top shape.
If you live in Minnesota, rely on AJ Alberts Plumbing to handle any persistent leaks and clogs and bigger issues like frozen pipes or excessive water pressure. Just give us a call, and we’ll be there in a flash to help!