Plumbing Systems: Know the Basics to Prevent Problems

by Matt Solis


Large-scale plumbing issues should always be handled by a professional, but there are plenty of simple techniques and procedures you can use to perform basic preventive maintenance. Consider the following tips for ensuring your plumbing system is functioning to its full capacity:


  • Run hot water down the drain once a week to help keep it free-flowing.
  • Repair leaky faucets to avoid further damage to the fixtures and faucets.
  • Fit tubs and showers with strainers that catch hair and soap chips. Clean the strainers regularly.
  • To remove mineral deposits on your shower head, put one cup of vinegar in a plastic bag, place it over the shower head, hold it in place with a twist tie and let it stand overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and wipe off the mineral deposits with a damp cloth.

Test your toilet for leaks. Check the water level in the tank to ensure the water isn’t overflowing by way of the overflow pipe (the pipe in the middle of the tank with a small piece of tubing connected to it). If water is running into the overflow pipe, adjust the fill valve until the water stops approximately one inch below the top of the overflow tube (there may be a water level mark stamped on the side of the tank). Test the flush valve mechanism by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tank. If the water changes color after 15 minutes, the ball or flapper is leaking and needs to be replaced.


  • Never put stringy or fibrous waste (poultry skins, carrots, celery, banana peels) into the garbage disposer.
  • Run cold water down the drain for 15 seconds before and after using the garbage disposer to flush waste through the line.
  • Don’t pour liquid grease down the drain. Remove congealed grease with a paper towel before washing pots and pans.

Clean your garbage disposer. Foul odors can occur from a buildup of food debris within the disposer. To eliminate odors, grind ice cubes and orange or lemon rinds in the disposer for 30 seconds.Add a small amount of liquid dish detergent while the disposer is still running. Rinse away any remaining debris by running cold water for 30 seconds.

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