Ask any plumber, and you’ll hear hair-raising stories of what plumbing myths have led some homeowners to do in the search of a quick-fix. Some of these tall tales contain just enough truth to be convincing. Others are outlandish enough that it chills plumbers to the core. Have you tried a few yourself?
Here are 7 common plumbing misconceptions:
Myth 1: Flushable Mean Flushable
Despite colorful labels describing wipes and pads as flushable, these products are not particularly kind to your plumbing. While the cellulose, cotton and other fibers in these products will eventually break down with enough agitation, your home’s toilet isn’t powerful enough to manage it. On the other hand, bathroom tissue is designed to dissolve easily in water, and it’s the only kind of paper-based product that should be flushed.
Myth 2: A Brick in the Toilet Tank Saves Water
The idea behind this trick is that if you displace some water in the tank, that you’ll eventually spend less per flush. Bricks aren’t meant to be submerged and can deteriorate, leading to problems with the flapper and leave mineral deposits on the working parts of your toilet. If you want to save money with every flush, get a high-efficiency toilet, not a brick. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that proper installation is crucial to getting the best performance from these new low-flow designs that can do more with less water.
Myth 3: Vinegar and Baking Soda Can Unclog Your Sink
If you ever made a model volcano in school, you know some of the science behind this myth. Add vinegar to baking soda and you get a dramatic fountain of fizz. Unfortunately, all those bubbles do nothing for clogs because they lack the force needed to move an obstruction through the pipe. Save the vinegar for your salad dressing and call a professional who can handle drain cleanings safely and effectively.
Myth 4: Ice Cubes Sharpen Your Disposal Unit’s Blades
If ice worked for sharpening a blade, you’d see chefs hacking away at blocks of it. Contrary to popular belief, your in-sink disposal doesn’t contain sharp blades anyway; it uses blunt impellers that grind scraps and other kitchen waste into a liquid that can then flow through the pipe. Ice can even damage the impellers and prevent them from grinding food into a fine enough paste, leading to clogs.
Myth 5: Chemicals and Plungers Are a Safe Mix
It’s risky enough to pour caustic chemicals down a drain to dissolve a clog, but using a plunger on the resulting mess is even more dangerous as it can cause the liquid to splash out of the drain. Lye-based drain cleaner can damage clothing, etch household surfaces or harm skin, so avoid stirring it with a plunger and risking your safety.
Myth 6: Hot Water Makes the Grease Disappear
Running a little hot water down your kitchen sink can help keep it drain quickly, but if you have a habit of pouring grease down the drain and relying on hot water alone to keep the pipes clear, you’re creating a bigger problem. Grease may be liquid as it goes down your sink but solidifies as the water cools, coating pipes and acting as a sticky substrate for food particles and other materials that go down the drain. Because the grease-based clog is farther from the source of hot water, it’s harder to dislodge with an auger or plunger. Grease belongs in the trash, not in your pipes.
Myth 7: It’s Just a Harmless Little Drip
A dripping faucet or a running toilet is more than a late-night annoyance. It’s costing you money, and it may be damaging your plumbing fixtures. EPA figures suggest homeowners could save 10 percent on water bills just by repairing these nuisance leaks. Small drips can also lead to big problems with mineral buildup, staining and corrosion.
Bottom line: Now that we’ve successfully debunked these myths, you’ll know who to call for solutions to any of your plumbing problems. To schedule your appointment with Steve’s Plumbing, LLC call (425) 979-7376.