It is an unfortunate fact that over time the plumbing in your house will begin to wear out. As your plumbing gets older, you’ll start to notice more clogs, leaks, and all around poorer performance. But, there are ways to keep your pipes in tip top shape without paying for costly pipe replacement. Obviously, if your pipes are already damaged then these tips will not be of much use to you, but if you just got some brand new pipes installed or got your pipes relined and want to know how to keep them working at 100%, then these tips will be of great use. Also, just as a general reminder, if you are having any problems with your pipes (cracks, serious clogs, etc.) call a plumber immediately, or else your pipes could burst (and trust me when I say that if there is one thing you do not want to have to deal with, it is burst pipes).
Have you ever thought about all the junk that gets washed down your drains on a daily basis? Small bits of food, hair, grease, chemicals, all of this and more goes down your drains. It may not seem that bad, but the junk adds up. Grease, animal fat, and hair are probably some of the worst offenders when it comes to drain clogs, grease, fat, and hair all have a tendency to get stuck and begin accumulating, at which point you have to go and get rid of all the junk yourself. So, how can you avoid this? Well, as the title says, invest in good quality strainers. You can get high quality, stainless steel sink strainers from online retailers for under $10. A high-quality sink strainer can help stop a lot of junk from going into your sinks and accumulating. These sink strainers should be installed on every sink and drain if possible, but if that is not an option, make sure that your kitchen sink and main shower drain have strainer. Of course, you will also have to be a bit more vigilant about what goes down your sink. For example, never pour grease or fat down a sink, put it in a container, let it harden overnight, and then toss it in the garbage.
It is recommended that you do some preventative cleaning on your pipes every once and a while. Ideally, you want to use an enzyme based cleaner. Why exactly? Well, enzyme based cleaners do not rely on the harsh chemicals that conventional pipe cleaning solutions use, so enzyme based cleaners tend to do less internal damage to your pipes. The key is to use enzyme-based cleaners before there is a major clog. The reason being that enzyme based cleaners tend to be a bit weaker than chemical heavy drain cleaners, so if there is a major clog in your pipes chances are the enzyme based cleaner will not be strong enough to remove it. If you do not have an enzyme based cleaner and cannot find one in store, you can make your own simple drain cleaning solution by mixing a half cup of baking soda with 1 cup vinegar and 1 cup of extremely hot water, pour this solution down your drains about once or twice a month, and your drains will be clog free.
In much the same way that you need to be conscious of what goes down your sinks, you also need to be careful of flushing things down your toilet. Even though your toilet is a lot more powerful than your sink, and much harder to clog, it is still very vulnerable. So, what should you avoid flushing down your toilet? Well, culprit number one is so-called “flushable” wipes. Even though they are marketed as flushable, ask any plumber and they will tell you that these flushable wipes do not dissolve when flushed. More often than not these flushable wipes get caught in your pipes and cause massive clogs. So, if you use these wipes on your babies, make sure you throw them out in the garbage as opposed to flushing them. Another thing to keep an eye out for is thick toilet paper. Thick toilet paper (3 ply, 4 ply, etc.) does not dissolve as well as thinner toilet paper, and so there is a chance that your pipes can become clogged, especially if you use a lot of thick toilet paper in a small amount of time. Stick with thin (1 or 2 ply) toilet paper if you can. Also, avoid any sort of feminine hygiene products, they are another big offender when it comes to causing clogs because they do not dissolve at all.
What do I mean by “plan ahead?” Well, know where your shut off valve is for starters. If there is ever a time where you need to turn your water off in a hurry, you do not want to have to waste time looking for the valve to shut off your water. Being able to shut off your water quicker can help prevent damage in emergency situations. Also, if you have the ability to shut off water to certain parts of your house, know where those valves are as well.
The title says it all, if you really want to keep your plumbing in good shape, then you are going to need to get semi-regular inspections done by a licensed plumber. There is only so many problems that an amateur can detect; it takes a professional to be able detect the small plumbing problems that could potentially become bigger ones down the line. So, if you are really committed to keeping your pipes in the best possible shape, call your local plumber and see about getting an inspect done, they are fast, easy, and can save you a lot of money down the line.