The thing that all myths have in common is that everyone knows them, but no one knows who told them; it’s the same with the stories we all “know” to be true regarding our home’s plumbing. Let’s clear up some common misconceptions about what’s happening in your pipes.
- Grind lemons to freshen and clean your disposal. Lemons might make your garbage disposal smell fresh and clean for a few minutes, as do all citrus fruits, but the citric acid that makes your disposal smell so lovely will also corrode the metal surface. Most likely you’ve heard that putting ice cubes in the disposal will sharpen the blade. This is actually true, but in addition, the ice cubes will also help remove odor-causing particles from the unit. Adding some salt multiplies the scrubbing effect of ice cubes, so instead of lemons, use ice cubes and salt to clean your disposal.
- Chemical drain cleaners are great for clogs. Actually, they are caustic, corrosive chemicals that don’t know that after they eat away at a clog, they should not eat your pipes as well. They damage the pipes they are supposed to be helping, and in case of a spill they can actually damage any surrounding surfaces they touch, including counters, floors, and skin. It’s better to try vinegar and baking soda, a plunger, or a drain snake on the clog. If none of those works, call a plumber.
- Most plumbing tasks are easy enough to do yourself. Sure, if you have even a little knowledge you can probably replace a faucet. However, for almost any other plumbing task, call a licensed plumber. The money you save by attempting a plumbing fix yourself could easily lead to major plumbing and structural repairs if anything at all goes wrong.
- I can put almost anything down my disposal. Well, it’s true that you can put whatever you want down there, but there will be consequences. Anything greasy, including cheese, will coat your pipes and create a messy clog that will be extremely difficult to remove. Stringy food such as celery or potato skins will get caught in your blades and cause your disposal to lock. Coffee, egg shells, bones, and bread products are also no-nos.
- A drip doesn’t matter. In fact, those drips add up fast. Whether it’s a faucet or showerhead or running toilet, you can waste thousands of gallons of water a year…and that’s water that you’re paying for. In many cases the dripping faucet may be fixed simply by replacing a washer in the faucet at the cost of maybe a dollar or two. If a new washer doesn’t fix the leak, replacing the faucet or calling a plumber are your next two courses of action.