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Plumbing is a very specialized profession and requires significant levels of education and experience. A plumber’s expertise is much more reliable than random advice. Some plumbing misconceptions have become common knowledge, even though they aren’t accurate. Plenty of people offer advice with the best of intentions, but that doesn’t mean the advice is always useful.
Some people suggest using a wire hanger as a plumbing snake. This may sound simple, but it’s a terrible idea. A plumber uses snakes and other equipment specifically designed to remove clogs or repair pipes. Wire hangers are designed to hold clothes neatly, and they can damage plumbing pipes or make clogs worse.
Flushable or Not?
Sometimes we can’t even trust product labels. Flushable wipes usually aren’t flushable. They can be flushed down a toilet, so the description is accurate. However, flushable wipes, feminine hygiene products and similar items can damage pipes, block drains, and clog pipes.
It’s not unusual to think of paper and cotton products as biodegradable because they’re natural materials. Although they’re biodegradable, septic tanks and sewer systems are designed for organic waste. Conditions aren’t right for other types of decomposition. Many products also contain synthetic materials that may take a very long time to break down.
Septic Tank Concerns
Homeowners with septic tanks should be very careful about flushing anything but waste and toilet paper. Materials that don’t decompose will simply stay in the tank. Septic tanks always have some sludge that builds up over time. Debris from wipes and other products combines with sludge and reduces the amount of space available in the tank.
Solid or semi-solid sludge can eventually clog the drainage pipe between the tank and drain field. Several unpleasant signs may indicate a clogged drainage pipe. The yard can develop swampy areas with a foul odor. The grass over the drain field is thicker and more vibrant than the rest of the yard. Wastewater can even back up into the house as well.
Call a plumber immediately if you notice any of these signs. Regularly scheduled maintenance, including septic tank pumping, minimizes the risk of clogs and overflows. If the household has been flushing questionable materials regularly, it may be a good idea to have the tank pumped as a precaution. Remind everyone in the house not to flush anything but toilet paper so the tank won’t fill up with debris again.
Lemons and Ice
A relatively common myth claims that lemon peels and ice cubes can sharpen blades in a garbage disposal. This is simply not true. Ice may help clean the interior of a garbage disposal, but lemon and ice can’t sharpen metal blades. Ice is a solid, hard substance that could dull blade edges.
Many garbage disposals don’t have blades, They have metal teeth called impellers that grind solid material instead of cutting it into small pieces. Lemon peels and other acidic food scraps are mildly corrosive and may actually damage various parts of a garbage disposal. Citrus peels can also get stuck on interior gears. Call your local plumber in Fernandina, FL, to repair or maintain a garbage disposal.
Hot Water and Drains
Hot water doesn’t make everything safe for kitchen sinks and drains. This is a fairly pervasive myth that has contributed to many clogged drains. Running water may help grease and fats flow into a drain smoothly, but these substances still congeal and clog pipes.
It’s easy to damage plumbing pipes if running water is used to force soft food scraps, such as oatmeal, pasta, or cooked rice, down the drain. Semi-solid, gooey textures may create multiple clogs in several locations. Homeowners shouldn’t try to fix these problems. Plumbers have the appropriate tools to locate and remove clogs without harming pipes.
Bricks and Toilets
Another common misconception is that a brick in the toilet tank conserves water. The brick may be helpful for a short time if it’s in exactly the right location. The idea behind this myth is that the brick displaces water, which results in water conservation. Even if the brick does work, it will only displace a small amount of water.
Bricks also deteriorate over time, and an incorrectly placed brick wastes water by forcing it to run continuously. Your local plumber can help identify opportunities to conserve water in your home. Replacing old appliances, installing low-flow fixtures, or altering a few daily habits are much more effective water conservation techniques.
Plungers are a staple in most homes in Fernandina, FL. They are excellent tools used to remove clogs in toilet drains through suction. Although plungers can be very effective, they don’t always work. A plunger can’t dislodge clogs beyond the toilet bowl or below floor drains. It’s also possible that clogs are only one part of a larger problem. Calling a plumber for help with stubborn or deep clogs is also an opportunity to find out if any other issues are present.
Avoid Harsh Chemicals
Bleach tablets may sound like a great way to clean the toilet. They’re easy to use, convenient, and kill germs. Unfortunately, chemical tablets can damage toilets and tanks. Safer options include solutions made with tree oil cleaner, baking soda, white vinegar, castile soap or Borax.
A few drops of lavender, orange, lemon, tea tree, or clove essential oils provide a pleasant scent. Harsh chemicals aren’t a great way to deal with clogs either. Some chemicals corrode pipe walls. Corrosion happens in tiny increments, but it can eventually lead to holes and leaks.
Bert Norman’s Plumbing is a family-owned business in Fernandina, FL, with more than 30 years of experience. Licensed plumbers answer questions and work with you to find the best solution for plumbing problems or concerns.