Plumbing Tips

Read these 7 Plumbing Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Home Improvement tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How do I clean a drain?

Drain cleaner

You can make your own drain cleaner by pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar. Let it "boil" for a few minutes, then flush with hot water.

   
What do I do about tree roots in my sewer?

Tree roots

If you have tree roots in your sewer, you can alleviate, or possibly eliminate, the problem by flushing a handful of rock salt (ice cream salt) down the toilet once a month. If the roots are small enough, the salt will make them rot. If they are too large to rot, the salt will soften them so they are easier to cut with a plumber's snake.

   
How do I maintain my septic tank?

Septic tanks

Septic tanks require some extra maintenance. In spite of what you hear, have your septic tank pumped out every five years. When solids build up, the damage is not to the tank, but to the leech field. The solids become as hard as concrete when they dry out. If this happens in the leech field or the laterals, they must be dug up and replaced.
Also, you must keep bacteria alive and well in the tank. You can either buy bacteria by the box, or you can just add yeast to the tank.

   
How do I shut off the water?

Shutoff

You should know where the main water shutoff is for your house. After a water line breaks is not the time to try to find it. It is usually in the basement or crawlspace where the water line enters the house.

   
What can I do about a slow faucet?

Slow faucet

If your faucet runs slow - no pressure - there are a couple of things to check before calling a plumber. If there are shutoff valves under the sink, check to make sure they are turned all the way on. If there is an aerator on the faucet, unscrew it and backwash the filter screen.

   
How do I clean my garbage disposal?

Garbage disposal

You can clean your garbage disposal by running a glassful of ice cubes through it.

   
How do I winterize my plumbing?

Winterizing

If you are going to be gone during cold weather, consider winterizing your plumbing. Shut off the water where it comes into the house. Open all the water valves to let the water run out. Then pour automotive antifreeze into the toilet bowls, sink drains, and floor drains.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.