Your Friendly Neighborhood Plumbers

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Plumbing problems never seem to happen during convenient or regular hours. The water pump quits working at 5 AM when everyone needs to get showers for school or work. The bathroom drain begins leaking at midnight just as everyone in the house is going to bed. The septic tank backs up on the Saturday your entire extended family is visiting for your daughter’s birthday. One plumber Hermosa Beach area residents regularly call when their plumbing is causing problems suggests these tips to keep your plumbing system running smoothly and to help you avoid those costly after-hours visits.

Kitchen Plumbing

The first preventative maintenance tip is one that many homeowners know, but often ignore. Grease, fats and cooking oils should never be poured into drains. As grease travels into the drain, which is often much cooler than the grease itself, it solidifies, causing backups. Instead, pour grease into a heat-proof container and allow it to cool slightly before discarding it in your regular garbage. Run cool water at least 15 seconds before you turn your disposal off to be sure the drain is cleared of food remnants. Always use cool water in a disposal, and be sure not to put hard, stringy or fibrous material into the unit. Some items that should not be placed in a disposal include: carrots, poultry skin, celery, banana peels, peach pits and bones.

Sharpen and clean your disposal blades using citrus peels and ice cubes. You can also clean the disposal using cold water and liquid dish detergent. Every few days, to prevent pipe build-up, pour a half-cup of baking soda into your drain, followed by a half-cup of vinegar. Rinse the solution using boiling water. Avoid using chemical-based drain cleaners as they can cause corrosion in pipes over time.

Bathroom Maintenance

Your toilet is not a wastebasket, so keep that in mind when you toss items into it to flush. Cotton balls, disposable diapers, sanitary products and facial tissues are not designed to degrade like toilet tissue, so none of these items should be flushed, especially if you have a septic system in your home. Place a few drops of food coloring in the upper tank of your toilet. If any color appears in the bowl, you may have a leak caused by a worn ball or flapper. Be sure that tub and sink drains have strainers to catch debris, such as soap or hair and clean them regularly. If your showerheads are not spraying properly, clean them with vinegar. Check bathtub stoppers for wear and tear, replacing them if necessary. Once per week, fill the tub halfway to three-fourths full before pulling out the stopper. The weight of the water will help flush the drain.

Utility Room Plumbing

There are several appliances in your home that you probably never consider as needing maintenance. Check washing machine hose for wear and if they are rubber or plastic, consider replacing them with stainless steel braided hoses. Early detection of leaks can make a big difference in repair costs, so check pipes around washing machines, air conditioners and water heaters as they are the easiest to locate. Check any visible pipes including under sinks and in basements or attics as well for signs of possible damage. Drain your water heater annually to remove sediment from the bottom that can cause unnecessary wear and tear. Locate emergency cut-off valves throughout your house and test them to be sure they are working properly. If you plan to be away from your home for an extended period, such as for vacation, shut off your water main to avoid damage if there is a leak while you are gone.

Although there is no way to avoid plumbing problems completely, these tips can help keep your appliances and pipes working properly. They can reduce the chance that you will have major plumbing issues at the inconvenient times when those types of problems seem to occur most often. It is also important to remember that an annual inspection from a licensed, qualified plumber can also identify potential problems that only a plumber can resolve, such as roots invading outdoor pipes or potentially expensive problems with large appliances.