For most homeowners, hearing the phrase “plumbing problem” is enough to strike fear into the heart of even the most dedicated DIY-er. And while it’s unlikely that you can own a home and never experience a single plumbing issue, there are a lot of things you can do to keep your plumbing system in great shape and avoid many plumbing problems before they ever happen.

Here are some of the most common household plumbing problems

Clogged Toilet

Most adults have experienced the horror (and sometimes utter humiliation) of a clogged toilet. Whether you’re at home or elsewhere, dealing with a clogged toilet is never a fun time. While not every clog is preventable, there are several things you can do to minimize the likelihood of a clog.

Type of toilet paper

Though all toilet paper dissolves eventually, some types take longer than others to breakdown. If your family uses a lot of toilet paper, then there is a high potential for clogging, if the paper you use doesn’t break down quickly in the plumbing system. Lower 1-ply toilet paper breaks down more quickly than 2-ply or 3-ply toilet papers, even when you use more of it. So, consider what type of paper your family uses and if it might be time for a change to prevent problems in the future.

Flush toilet paper only

Though flushable wipes have been marketed as an option that will degrade along with toilet paper in the sewer system, in reality, those wipes should not be flushed. In fact, you shouldn’t be flushing anything except toilet paper in the toilet. Flushable wipes, paper towels, and even tissues aren’t made to break down as quickly and easily as toilet paper and can cause serious problems in your plumbing system if they are flushed. And if the clog occurs in the sewer line outside your home, you could be facing a big, costly repair to clear that clog. Do your plumbing system a favor and be sure to throw anything that isn’t toilet paper into the garbage instead of the toilet.

Maintenance

Recurring clogs or other minor toilet problems can be a signal that there are larger problems looming within your plumbing system. Though a single isolated clog probably isn’t a cause for concern, ongoing problems should signal it’s time for a deeper look into what could be causing the issues. A simple maintenance check could help to solve a small problem before it becomes a huge disaster.

Clogged Drains

Hair and soap residue are the main causes of clogging for bathroom drains. You can add a strainer to drains to catch hair before it enters the drains at all. Or you can try using a wet/dry vac to regularly clean hair and other residue from the drains. Once you notice that a drain is getting slow, you probably already have a clog in the line, so it’s unlikely that a simple fix will work. You’ll probably need to auger the line to remove the clog. Most plumbers don’t recommend using liquid drain cleaners, since they’re not guaranteed to solve the problem and can sometimes harm your plumbing system. If you’re not comfortable clearing the line yourself, it’s best to reach out to a local plumbing expert to help you resolve the clog.

Leaking Faucets

Faucets can begin to drip or leak for a variety of reasons, including damage, high water pressure, faulty seals, and more. In addition to being annoying, leaky faucets can cost you a lot more money on your water bill and lead to water damage in your home. Aside from being gentle with faucets when you turn them off and on, there isn’t too much you can do to prevent faucets from leaking from normal wear and tear. However, repairing a leak as soon as you notice it can help you avoid bigger problems from water damage down the road. Luckily, a leaking faucet is a relatively simple problem to troubleshoot and fix, and can usually be resolved by replacing an inexpensive seal within the faucet.

System Knowledge

Having a good understanding of your home’s plumbing system is another way to prevent, or mitigate serious plumbing problems. For example, knowing where the water shutoffs for different parts of the plumbing system are can reduce the time it takes to shut off the water in the event of a major leak. Shutting off the water supply to a leak can stop hundreds, or even thousands of gallons of water from spilling into your home. You should also make it a priority to understand where your sump pump is and how it operates, if you have one. Having a working knowledge of your home’s plumbing system can make a huge difference if you’re faced with a serious plumbing issue.

Regular Maintenance

With the general busyness of life, it can be hard to remember to make time for things like regular maintenance on your home. However, regular preventative maintenance is critical to keeping things in your home running well. Regular maintenance can also help you to spot small problems before they become serious issues. If you struggle to keep up with preventative maintenance on your home’s systems, a maintenance club can be a great solution for you. Maintenance clubs are offered by many HVAC, plumbing, and electrical companies to help their clients keep up with regular maintenance on various systems. Usually, maintenance clubs provide a specified number of regular visits each year and help homeowners stay on top of important home maintenance needs. If you haven’t already, consider enrolling in a maintenance club to keep your home’s plumbing functioning at peak performance.

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