Plumbers give us the scoop on clogged pipes, do-it-yourself plumbing repair, and more!
They don’t tolerate bad plumbers, so you know they’ll send you to the best of the best.
Don’t flush floss, tampons, or even so-called “flushable” wipes. They don’t break down like toilet paper does and can come back to haunt you later. “Toilets are more water-efficient now than they were 20 years ago, so there sometimes isn’t enough volume in the flush to force debris down,” says Marcin Wroblewski, president of ExpressRooter Plumbing. “An object will get lodged in the trap and cause blockage when waste builds up days later.”
I’d replace those flimsy rubber hoses with stainless steel ones. That way, you only need to worry about these other laundry mistakes that could ruin your next load of wash.
“Don’t pour fat down the drain. Wipe your pan with paper towels and compost them,” Wroblewski advises. Grease can become rock-hard and may require professional removal.
Some allege that putting a brick in the toilet tank can save water, but doing that can keep your toilet from flushing correctly. Liquid drain cleaners are also bad news – they eat away at the pipes. Try a plunger or, better yet, a $30 toilet auger.
While bricks might not be your secret weapon in a toilet tank, check out these 11 extraordinary uses for ordinary household items.
Buying a home? Have a plumber scope your underground drain system with a camera to check for roots, collapses and other problems that typically aren’t visible to home inspectors. “Spending $300 on an investigation could save you tens of thousands later in insurance claims for flood clean-up, excavation and pipe replacements,” Wroblewski says.
Not getting a plumber around pre-sale could lead to serious regret later down the track. Here are some of the other biggest regrets of first-time home buyers.
I can’t tell you how many calls I get from people screaming and crying that their house is flooding and they don’t know what to do. The location of the main turnoff source is something every homeowner should know.
If you’ve got a Rapunzel at home (or even a rapidly balding man), buy a drain strainer or a hair snare or tell them to use a paper towel to clear the drain. Soap can gum up the pipes, too, so use as little of that as you can.
Using corrosive chemicals to dissolve a clog is like throwing a grenade down a rabbit hole. Instead, Wroblewski recommends flushing your drains weekly with a half cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar. Let it fizz in the drain for ten minutes, then pour in four cups of boiling water.
Pay me by the job, not by the hour. This is one of the most important plumbing tips you can remember.
Yes, it’s against the rules to remove flow inhibitors from your showerheads, but some of us will do it if you ask.
I’m not a babysitter, a mover or an auto mechanic. Don’t ask for advice on things that aren’t in my job description. However, we’ll help you out this one time.
Always jiggling the toilet handle? You need to replace the flap valve. The part costs $4, and it’s an easy fix. I charge $100 just to walk in the door.
There’s often an Allen key that comes with the garbage disposal. I keep it under the sink. When the thing jams, follow the directions in the manual, and I won’t need to come out. Another plumbing tip, don’t believe the myth about putting lemon peels in the disposal to make it smell better. That will just make it jam faster.
I was working in one bathroom while my client was using the spa bath in another one. And blow-drying her hair at the same time. Her husband had told her it was fine. I told her he was trying to get rid of her.
Looking for an easy way to figure out why your water bill is mysteriously high? Shut off all fixtures, including the valve on your hot water tank. If the numbers on your meter keep moving, call a plumber – you might have sprung a hidden leak inside a wall or under flooring.
Don’t hang clothes on those exposed pipes in your basement. I’ve seen them break and flood a basement.
I see this all the time: Women want a new toilet seat and ask their husbands to make the switch. If the seat is old and has metal bolts, you probably need to cut it off with a hacksaw, not unscrew it. A wrench may slip, damaging the bowl and bloodying your knuckles.
“Sure, my material cost is different than the guy who runs his business out of his garage,” says licensed plumber Bill Stevens. “But it’s not the copper you’re paying for, it’s the experience. At the end of the day, my material cost is between 25-30 percent of the cost of the job.”
Mondays and Tuesdays are when plumbers get the most phone calls from DIYers who realise they’re out of their depth, Wroblewski says.
But you’ll save in the long run by avoiding call-backs and extra charges. Look for a company that warranties its service for up to a year for major installations or repairs.
Small drips can waste over 30 litres of water a day, and a continuously running toilet can waste more than 750 litres of water, daily. If you ignore them, you’ll pay for it when your water bill arrives.
Sure, we’ll be happy to check those supply valves under your sink free of charge after we finish the work you’re paying us for. Just ask. Same goes for checking your water pressure.
I had a lady who said she wanted to run to the grocery store to get some coffee to make for me and my guys while we were installing her new kitchen. She said she was just gonna run to the store and asked if we wouldn’t mind keeping an eye out for her one-year-old daughter who was sleeping at the time. We said fine, but she ended up not returning until four hours later. The kid was screaming her head off and we didn’t know what to do. We tried holding her. We didn’t know if she was hungry or what to feed her. She just kept crying.
“Don’t assume that every Mr. Fix-it advertising his services is a licensed plumber,” says one plumber.
“Don’t go to the Yellow Pages to find a plumber,” says Stevens. “It’s like guessing lottery numbers. Anyone can make an appealing ad, but that doesn’t mean they are legitimate. In this industry, it’s easy for a plumber who develops a poor reputation to advertise under a different name. They come and go.” Even searching for someone online may end up being a scam using fake reviews. Instead, look for a plumber who is well-established in your community. Local contractors or plumbing fixture stores can also refer you to a quality plumber. “Most of these firms won’t work with bad plumbers.” Or simply ask your neighbours for a referral. A trusted plumber that consistently delivers quality service does not remain a secret for very long.
Get a minimum of three bids. Estimates for an average-sized job should be within a few hundred dollars. Be suspicious of anything that is substantially lower or double the price of the rest, and watch out for hidden fees, like charges for travel expenses. They could be signs of a home improvement scam. Many of us will offer free estimates.
There’s a reason why service calls aren’t cheap. Not only is being a plumber hard on backs and knees, but workers also risk exposure to biohazards from sewage (where nasty diseases lurk, such as hepatitis A, B, and C, and leptospirosis) and toxic methane gas.
Water damage is the leading cause of home insurance claims, accounting for around 40 percent. Flooding and sewage backups, often caused by increasingly intense precipitation, are responsible for the most problems.