1. Letting grease get into the drain
We bet you didn’t know that grease and cooking oil is one of the biggest causes of issues both in private homes, water treatment facilities, and the sewage system overall. Unfortunately, it’s true. The cooking oil and grease are extremely hazardous for the pipes, be it a dirty frying pan or salad bowl.
The reason why is that oils coagulate and form a thick white substance when they mix with water. As a result, these congealed fats can accumulate food and other debris you flush down the drain, which can clog it up. The rest of that fat will make it to the sewer and pile up into blobs of garbage called fatbergs that can and do cause real damage to the sewage system.
According to Livescience, one of the biggest ever fatbergs was discovered in the UK. It was 820 feet (250 m) long and weighed 143 tons. To prevent these clearly major issues from happening, simply wipe down the dirty pan or dish with a paper towel to get the majority of the grease off and proceed washing as usual.
2. Using chemicals to unclog the drain
Chemical drain cleaners may seem like a quick fix for an annoying problem, but plumbers say that these caustic cleaning chemicals aren’t as effective as you’d think. According to Aaron Mulder, a plumbing company owner in San Antonio, Texas, “is not going to stop that buildup from reoccurring. It is just (pushing) down to where the chemical didn’t reach.”
Instead, experts recommend using a plumbing snake, also known as a drain auger (see image above), to deal with persistent clogs. And yes, it’s better to buy the drain auger instead of wire or an old hanger, since rigid wires can actually make a hole or otherwise damage the pipe from the inside, which will eventually lead to a whole host of issues from leaks to bad smells.
3. Flushing baby wipes down the toilet
The printed instructions on many wet wipes state that they are safe to flush down the toilet, but this is not entirely true. But all these supposedly flushable cleaning wipes, baby wipes, and makeup remover wipes are actually way too sturdy and thick to disintegrate in water and are a frequent cause of clogged toilets, sewers and often cause septic tank problems.
It goes without saying that the same goes for feminine hygiene products, diapers, and even paper towels. For a full list of items, read our previous article titled 8 Things You Shouldn't Flush Down the Toilet. As a matter of fact, habitual and widespread disposal of these kinds of items can clog up the entire sewage system in your city, and it could develop into a public health issue.
This is exactly what has happened in Miami, where 300 tons of wipes are retrieved from their wastewater treatment facilities, a project that costs the city $3.4 million a year. Therefore, if you're using any of these products, simply throw them into the trash after use.
4. Using the garbage disposal carelessly
The term “garbage disposal” is admittedly quite misleading, as many people take it too literally, throwing literally anything at it, edible or not. The reality is that garbage disposal units are only made for small food scraps like cereal and the like, and certainly not teabags, bones, raw meat scraps, eggshells, or coffee grounds.
Over time, these items will dull down the blades and overheat the motor of the garbage disposal, which means that it will considerably shorten the unit's lifespan.
Moreover, some food debris, particularly those derived from meat, fruit, and vegetables, can be stuck in-between the garbage disposal blades for weeks, and all these decaying food debris will surely start exuding foul smells. Therefore, it's a much better idea to dispose of all these food scraps the old-fashioned way - throwing them in the trash.
5. Ignoring prevention and upkeep
This last point doesn’t get the attention it deserves, as when it comes to pipes, drains, sewage, most of us prefer to spend as little time, money, and effort as possible. But the truth is that simply patching up problems here and there will end up costing you more, as, like cars, sewage systems require regular maintenance, too.
Some of the areas plumbers recommend focusing on are yearly water pressure measurements, checking for leaks, and checking that all the hoses are in good shape. Likewise, if you think that there is a leak somewhere in the house, always make sure to get it checked with a professional as soon as possible, as all these issues do tend to worsen over time. For even more plumber tips, please read our article Ten Plumbing Tips From a Professional Plumber.
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