1.) Don’t pour oil or grease down the drain.

fat berg wipes

Always avoid dumping any fats, oils or grease down your drains.
Fats and oils, including substances like butter and chicken fat, exhibit a unique physical property: they remain liquid until reaching room temperature, at which point they solidify. This transition from liquid to solid state has significant implications, especially in household settings. When these fats are in their liquid form, they can easily adhere to various particles such as hair, dust, dirt, and debris, much like glue binds to paper.

The disposal of these fats and oils down the drain can lead to problematic consequences. As they solidify inside the plumbing, they begin to accumulate and adhere to the interior surfaces of the pipes. This process is similar to the way cholesterol accumulates in a human artery, leading to narrowing and potential blockage. Over time, the continual build-up of these solidified fats can result in a significant obstruction within the piping system. This obstruction mirrors the detrimental effects of cholesterol in a corroded artery.

In practical terms, this means that the drainage capacity of the sink diminishes gradually until a point is reached where a total blockage occurs. When this happens, homeowners are often confronted with a sink filled with standing water, indicative of a fully clogged drain. This scenario underscores the importance of proper disposal of fats and oils, highlighting the need for alternative methods that do not involve pouring them down the sink. By understanding and respecting the physical properties of these substances, one can avoid the inconvenience and potential damage caused by clogged plumbing.

2. ) Use a strainer in your showers and sinks.

sink strainer

At our shop, we frequently encounter the task of power rodding kitchen sinks and showers. This process is necessitated by the common accumulation of various substances such as hair, soap residue, coffee grounds, and small bits of food debris in the plumbing. These materials tend to get trapped in the pipes, leading to frequent clogs.

However, there is a straightforward and cost-effective solution that can prevent the majority of these clogs from occurring in both kitchen and shower drains. The solution lies in the use of a simple tool: a one-dollar strainer. This tool is remarkably effective in intercepting the kinds of debris that typically cause blockages.

Designed as a mesh wire strainer, this tool is capable of capturing even the smallest particles of food and strands of hair. By placing it over the drain, it acts as a barrier, preventing these materials from entering and accumulating in the plumbing system. This preemptive measure is not only efficient but also economically advantageous, as it can save homeowners from the higher costs and inconvenience associated with dealing with clogged drains.

The utility of this simple mesh wire strainer extends beyond just its functionality. It represents an easy-to-implement, low-cost solution that enhances the maintenance of household plumbing systems, ensuring smooth and uninterrupted drainage in both kitchens and showers. With this tool, the frequency of clogs can be significantly reduced, making it a valuable addition to any home maintenance toolkit.

3.) Don’t flush wipes or paper towels.

flushable wipes

Flushable wipes, commonly perceived as a sewer safe, are in fact causing significant distress to sewer systems worldwide. These wipes, despite being marketed as flushable, do not disintegrate like traditional toilet paper. Instead, they tend to accumulate over time, leading to the formation of substantial obstructions known as “fatbergs.” These fatbergs are conglomerations of old wipes mixed with fats and other waste materials, creating massive blockages in sewer systems.

This issue is not confined to public sewer systems; it can also manifest within residential plumbing. In a typical scenario, a wipe may navigate through the pipes until it encounters a bend or turn where it becomes lodged. Over time, additional wipes and debris accumulate at this point, eventually forming a significant clog that impedes the normal flow in the sewer line. This can lead to serious plumbing issues within the home, necessitating costly and inconvenient repairs.

4.) Find your main water shut-off valve.

main shut off valve ball valve and gate valve

Water lines in residential settings are typically under substantial pressure, often as high as 55 pounds per square inch (PSI). This level of pressure is necessary for ensuring adequate water flow throughout the home. However, it also means that if a leak occurs in one of these lines, the situation can quickly escalate, leading to potential water damage.

In the event of a leak, it is crucial for homeowners to act swiftly to mitigate the damage. The first and most important step in addressing a leak is to know how to promptly shut off the water supply. The longer a leak is allowed to continue, the more severe the resultant damage can be, potentially leading to extensive repairs and restoration efforts.

The shut-off valves for the water supply are generally located in specific areas of a home. Most commonly, these can be found near the front of the house, facing the street. This location is chosen for ease of access, both for homeowners and for utility workers, if necessary. Additionally, shut-off valves may be situated in the basement of the house or near the water meter. These locations are strategic, ensuring that the valve is both accessible and protected.

Knowing the exact location of these shut-off valves and understanding how to operate them is essential for all homeowners. In the case of a leak, this knowledge allows for immediate action, significantly reducing the risk of extensive water damage. It’s a fundamental aspect of home maintenance and can save considerable time, effort, and expense in the event of a plumbing emergency.

5.) Find out if your toilet seal is leaking.

toilet leak test
The flapper or seal in your toilet tank is a critical component that ensures water remains in the tank until the toilet is flushed. Over time, however, this flapper can degrade due to wear and tear, leading to water leaks. These leaks, often from the tank into the toilet bowl, can be subtle and go unnoticed or be forgotten for extended periods. This not only results in water wastage but can also lead to higher water bills and potential damage over time.

There is a simple yet effective trick to detect if your toilet’s flapper is failing: the use of food coloring. By adding a few drops of food coloring to the toilet tank, you can easily monitor for any signs of leakage. If the color starts appearing in the toilet bowl without a flush, it is a clear indication that the flapper is compromised and needs replacement.

This method is an efficient way to identify a leak that might otherwise remain hidden. Catching and addressing such leaks early can prevent more significant problems down the line and is an excellent example of proactive home maintenance. It’s a straightforward, cost-effective solution that any homeowner can employ, ensuring the efficient and proper functioning of their toilet.


You Can Count On Us

If you have a difficult plumbing problem, you can count on Green Tech Plumbing to help. Our plumbers are fully licensed, bonded and insured. We offer 24-hour emergency plumbing service. We are conveniently located in Des Plaines, IL and serving the North & Northwest suburbs of Chicago.