Correcting Common Plumbing Old Wives Tales

by Sudarsan Chakraborty

There are a few areas of our lives where bits of misinformation or outright myth might creep in among correct information, and a good example is the world of plumbing. Because so many homeowners are involved in their own plumbing system’s care, a few “old wives tales” have cropped up over the years — tips or methods for handling certain plumbing issues that have somehow been passed from person to person, despite simply being incorrect or inefficient.

This sort of thing won’t happen if you’re working with reputable plumbing professionals for all your drain cleaning, sewer line, emergency plumbing and other needs. What are a few of these most common old wives tales that you may hear about how to manage certain plumbing components or issues in your home or building, and why should they be avoided? Here’s a primer. 

Bricks in Your Toilet Help Save Money

For some reason, a myth arose decades ago that if you put a brick in your toilet tank, it would help the toilet to use less water with each flush and save you money on your water bill. In reality, this does nothing more than waste water (and bricks aren’t exactly cheap). 

Not only this, but bricks in your toilet risk major damage to your plumbing should they become dislodged and fall into the toilet bowl. You’re much better off installing a water-saving toilet tank insert or retrofitting your current toilet to save water rather than using an old wives tale.

Ice Cubes Are Perfect for Sharpening Garbage Disposal Blades

Simply put, this isn’t how sharpening works for just about any blade in the world. While it’s true that ice cubes may be used in garbage disposals to help dislodge food that’s become stuck to the blades, using ice cubes as a makeshift sharpener will only do more damage. In fact, it’s one of the most common causes of blade dulling.

If your garbage disposal seems to be having trouble due to a lack of sharpness, use a wooden spoon or chopsticks to try and dislodge the food instead of throwing ice cubes in there. You should also schedule regular maintenance and cleaning appointments with your plumbing professional to keep your garbage disposal running smoothly.

Hot Water Down the Garbage Disposal Solves All Grease Issues

While it’s correct that hot water will liquify grease in a drain or garbage disposal, the real issue with this wives tale is what happens after. Once grease hits cold pipes further down the system, it will quickly solidify again and can cause major clogs.

Instead of using hot water, try using a plunger to dislodge the grease. If that doesn’t work, you can then use boiling water to help break it down before calling your plumbing professional for further assistance.

Liquid Drain Cleaners Clear Clogs Optimally

Perhaps the single most common myth out there regarding plumbing systems is that using a liquid drain cleaner is the best way to clear clogs and keep your drains flowing smoothly. In reality, these cleaners are incredibly harsh and can actually damage your plumbing system if used too frequently or in excessive amounts. 

What’s more, they often don’t even work to clear clogs effectively, and you may just end up with a mess on your hands. If you’re experiencing a clog, call a professional to help clear it instead of trying to fix it yourself with a harsh chemical cleaner.

These are just a few of the most common old wives tales when it comes to plumbing. By avoiding them, you can save yourself time, money and headache – not to mention protect your plumbing system from damage.

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