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Top Eleven Plumbing Myths

Updated on August 29, 2016

Have you heard any of these common plumbing myths? Learn how believing these things can be damaging your plumbing system or causing you needless worry!

Myth 1: Lemons can disinfect a garbage disposal.

Putting lemon peels in a garbage disposal might make it smell better, but won’t actually get it clean. Too many people believe that if your drains just smell clean, they are clean. But to really disinfect a garbage disposal requires a cleaning solution that includes mild soap, used with warm water. Remember to disconnect the disposal from its power source before scrubbing it out!

Myth 2: Running water is all that is needed to wash virtually anything down a garbage disposal.

Many people think they can put just about anything down a garbage disposal as long as they run enough water at the same time. The truth is some things should never be put in a garbage disposal. Hard or thick food items can clog the drain and cause damage to the disposal blades. If you feel you must put items such as eggshells or hard food peelings into the disposal, at least be sure to break them into very small pieces first to minimize the chance of blade damage and drain clogging.

Myth 3: As long as water keeps draining, there are no problems with the pipes.

Just because water still goes down he drain doesn't mean problems aren't lurking below. If you see any of these common warning signs developing - slow drainage; water bubbling up the other side of a double kitchen sink before draining down both sides; fragments of waste remaining stuck to the side of your garbage disposal even after the water has drained - you could have a clog developing down the line that needs to be addressed by a professional plumber, and sooner is better than later.

Myth 4: Soap is a great way to clean plumbing fixtures.

Soap can actually damage many types of plumbing fixture surfaces, and you should be sure to use the proper solution for the job. Brass fixtures need to be cleaned with lemon and baking soda. Toilet bowls, sinks, and other porcelain fixtures need to be cleaned with disinfectant solutions that kill germs.

Myth 5: It is fine to flush disposable wipes marketed as “flushable”.

Despite marketing and packaging claims, flushable wipes are anything but. They are not biodegradable like toilet paper is and will not break down as quickly in your pipes and septic systems. This easily understood mistake is responsible for many blockages – and many easily avoidable plumber visits!

Myth 6: Strange noises from the water heater could be a sign that it will explode.

Popping or bubbling sounds from the water heater are not a sign that it is about to explode, but it is a sign that it is in need of some maintenance. The first problem such noises indicate is that you may have some sediment build-up from hard water at the bottom of your tank, and when the burner turns on, there is enough to prevent the heat from rising evenly and smoothly, instead making a popping and bubbling sound as it bursts through the layers of sediment. Another reason could be that the water inside your tank is boiling. This can be because your thermostat is set too high or the thermostat is broken.

Myth 7: A leaky faucet is not a major plumbing problem.

Even a small drip can waste hundreds of gallons and cost you more money than you think. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, household leaks waste over 1 trillion gallons across the United States. Leaks also can cause damage to sinks, causing stains or cracks in the porcelain, or (depending on the placement of the leak) cause water damage elsewhere in the home.

Myth 8: Garbage disposals can be sharpened with ice cubes.

While ice cubes can be used to clean the garbage disposal, they will not sharpen the blades and may even serve to dull them. Garbage disposal blades generally have a life of ten years and should not need to be sharpened regularly. It is also not cost effective to replace them, and if they have become dull it is probably a better idea to replace the entire unit.

Myth 9: Putting a brick in the toilet tank can save on your water bill.

Bricks will erode over time, and can cause other toilet parts to break by their presence or due to the erosion. The positive intent can also backfire if the brick displaces too much water, causing an ineffective flush which creates a need for more flushing, thus using more water.

Myth 10: Bleach-containing toilet tank cleaners are great for keeping the toilet clean.
Many people use colored bleach tablets in their toilet tanks to keep their toilets cleans and disinfected. Unfortunately these tablets can create a buildup as they dissolve further down the line. For cleaning purposes, bleach does not need to sit in a toilet tank for over ten minutes. Vinegar is also an efficient cleaner and disinfectant, and can even help break up buildup further down the line.

Myth 11: Turning a tap off tightly is a good idea.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, turning a tap off very tightly does not prevent it from leaking, but actually can damage a faucet seal over time and increase the chance of leaks. Faucets need to be turned off no more tightly than necessary to stop the flow of water.

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