Sacramento Plumbing 101
Know the Basics
Perhaps more than any other home system, plumbing may be the most critical. We can light candles in a power outage or pull out extra blankets if there’s a temporary heating problem. However, the pipes running throughout our houses serve the most fundamental of needs, to bring us water and help us maintain a clean and healthy environment. Each homeowner should make it a priority to know the basics of how their system works and how to keep it working effectively.
Be proactive – in the event of a plumbing backup, a speedy response can make the difference between minor and major damage to your home and your belongings. Get referrals for a plumber and keep that contact information handy. Find out where your shut-off valves and clean-out are so you can begin to deal with a problem until the plumber arrives. Investigate how your plumbing lines work and make a diagram. This can be a very useful piece of information when you need to make repairs or hire a plumber.
Use equipment appropriately. As a rule you should not flush paper heavier than toilet tissue, such as paper towels and hand wipes, down the toilet. Even small items such as cotton swabs can clog the pipes. Install screens over your sink, shower, and bath drains to catch hair and other debris. The garbage disposal is a modern convenience that has heralded new problems. First, not every piece of foodstuff should go into the disposal, such as meats and fats. Fibrous foods such as celery and asparagus can get caught in the blades. Second, the disposal should be run for an adequate amount of time, until you hear only the whirring of the blades without any grinding sound. Occasionally run hot soapy water down the drain while the disposal is running to flush out the lines. And of course never dispose of hazardous materials such as paint down the drain.
If you have trees on your property you have to be cognizant of the impact roots can have on your plumbing. Over the years roots will most likely migrate into some portion of your sewage line, especially if there is already any kind of crack or leakage. Replacing drain lines is a major undertaking: it is expensive and the project will require some level of demolition to access the line. It is worth it to keep the existing lines operational as long as possible. There are several options available to kill roots in your pipes, including homemade remedies, organic compounds, and chemical solvents. Be aware that some municipalities have guidelines about using chemical treatments in the water lines. Talk with your plumber and your local water treatment agency about acceptable solutions.
In the world of home plumbing systems, prevention is king. Once your system is compromised your lifestyle will be suspended until it is fixed. The more you are aware of stresses on the pipes, the better prepared you will be to keep them working efficiently and effectively.