You might not think much of it when you toss something in the toilet—after all, you’ve got a plunger handy, right?—but these seemingly innocent things can do irreparable damage to your home’s pipes. And while these types of fixes do not come cheap, the money may be the least of your problems if your home floods as a result.
To help you avoid a costly headache, we asked a plumber to dish on the most common plumbing mistakes that homeowners do. Here’s what Dean Mathis, president of Staten Plumbing, had to say.
1. Dumping kitty litter into the toilet
Kitty litter includes more than just your cat’s waste, says Mathis. It also contains clay and sand, which are extremely troublesome for any plumbing systems. “The clay and silica clumping litters are designed to absorb moisture and create clumps, which turn into large clogs almost immediately once they enter your pipes.”
2. Rinsing hair down the drain
You probably already know that showers are prone to clogging due to hair buildup, but the same thing can happen to your sink or toilet if you regularly sweep stray hairs down the drain. When hair goes down the drain, it can form knots and clumps, trapping in odor and making serious clogs in your pipe, says Mathis. The same is true for other stringy items, like dental floss.
3. Putting medication down the drain or in the toilet
“While prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, and other substances don’t necessarily mess up your pipes, the ingredients in pharmaceuticals can pose dangers to your water supply,” says Mathis. Dispose of medications responsibly, through your local pharmacy or medication disposal program.
4. Flushing tampons or sanitary napkins
The cotton in these items can easily snag and grab onto just about anything, causing clogs and harming machinery, says Mathis. And since these materials don’t decompose, they must be physically removed from the waste stream by the workers processing the waste and then sent to a landfill. You’re much better off wrapping these products and then tossing them in the trash from the get-go.
5. Pouring fats and oils down the sink
“In a way, pipes are a lot like arteries,” says Mathis. “When fats flush the pipes and cool off, they freeze and congeal, building up like cholesterol in arteries. After a while, the blockage can become too great, causing your pipes to have a proverbial heart attack.” Let these items solidify, then dispose of them in the trash.
6. Flushing wet wipes
Yes, even the ones marketed as “flushable.” “Wet wipes have become very popular, but they don’t play well with an aging infrastructure,” says Mathis. “They don’t disintegrate at the same rate as toilet paper, which can lead to a clogged sewer pipe.” The risk is greater in older neighborhoods, like those in the northeastern United States—still, it’s a costly fix that’s simply not worth the gamble, says Mathis.
7. Taking on DIY plumbing projects
No matter how dutifully you follow the rules outlined above, accidents happen. But this is not the time to start tinkering—there’s a difference between replacing a shower head (very beginner-friendly!) and trying to take apart your pipes. “Plumbing systems are one such area in which maintenance work should most times be handled by licensed professionals, no matter how easy certain fix-it tasks might appear in a DIY plumbing advice manual,” says Mathis, who recommends leaving malfunctioning pipes, water pressure issues, and appliance installation to the pros. If you try to handle such things yourself, numerous troubles might ensue that could leave your wallet drained and your property sinking in value.
Staten Plumbing is here to serve the Upstate of South Carolina with dependable plumbing service. Contact Staten at 864.520.1138 for prompt and professional service today.
"Staten came out to my home and did an awesome job. I would tell anyone that needed plumbing work done to call Staten. They were on time and did a great job."
"Best in town! Great friendly service and was able to come out asap! Highly recommend Staten Plumbing HVAC Electric and all of there staff!"
"Dustin did a great job!! Diagnosed our water pressure problem quickly, adjusted the pressure, found blockages in two lines, and had the water pressure back to normal in no time. Wonderful job!! We'd call him again in a minute!!"
"Dean Allen is amazing person and help my family out. This company have amazing service and responded was really good. I will highly recommend them to anyone."
"Dean and Steven did a great job diagnosing issues with our water pressure and resulting problems with water heater. They were quick and efficient with the installation of the heater and pressure release valve and explained how to operate them after they finished. I highly recommend Staten!"
"Dean Burns and Steven Glenn got everything done that I needed at a fair price. Very professional, fast and great workmanship. I will be calling them for now on for all my plumbing needs. I highly recommend Staten Plumbing HVAC Electric."
"I'd definitely use these guys again. One of my rentals had a water heater go out in the crawl space and it was 25° outside - but didn't stop them from changing it out for me. On time, finished by lunch and back in service. Thanks guys!"
"Greatest experience with a plumbing company! I called at 5:30am, the call was answered and a technician called back with an appointment time. They were prompt, did a great job and reasonably priced. I highy recommend Staten."
"I had a problem with my kitchen sink leaking and called Staten. The technician was on time, thorough, considerate & even helped me with a fridge. Cost was on par with other companies and I would recommend Staten."
"Dean and Big Tommy took care of a custom pipe configuration for me in less than an hour. Super great guys to deal with and they know their plumbing."
"Today, my house flooded because the toilet valve busted. Staten Plumbing HVAC Electric arrived quickly and the plumber, John, was friendly and fixed the issue right away. I would highly recommend this professional business."
"Excellent service and promptly responded to request for immediate service. Dean and Antwan were very professional and personable. Highly recommend."
"Fantastic! Fixed all of my water problems! Saved me a bunch of money on my next water bill."
"Awesome work! Greg came out, same day, to address my problem. He was extremely hard working, polite, friendly, and solved my problem as he worked into the nighttime hours. Oh, and he did the job for the best price too! Highly recommend!"
"Man, are these guys good! We had some gurgling in our tubs and sinks, so we called them out. Not only did they fix our issue, but they found and fixed another problem at our house caused by another local plumbing company. They were on time, effecient, and even left me with some things we could do ourselves so they wouldn't have to address this problem again. Great team! Thank you Greg and Dean!"