Posts

7 Plumbing Mistakes Homeowners Make

As a homeowner, there are many things you can do to maintain your plumbing system and prevent issues like a sewer leak, but it’s easy for homeowners to make mistakes that cause problems with their plumbing systems later on. This blog post will go over some of the most common plumbing mistakes homeowners make and how they can avoid them.

Quick Tips

When you’re dealing with plumbing problems in your home, it’s usually important to act quickly. The longer the problem goes unfixed, the more damage it can cause, and the harder it can become to repair. If you have a burst pipe or a sewer leak, for example, shut off the water immediately before further damage occurs. Then call a plumber as soon as possible. But how do you avoid these types of situations in the first place?

These are a few of the most common plumbing mistakes that homeowners tend to make:

1) Trying to DIY Projects

The reality is that most homeowners don’t understand how their plumbing works beyond turning on a faucet or flushing the toilet. There’s simply no reason for most of us to have a broader understanding of how many things work in our homes, like how electricity functions, or all the intricacies of a gas furnace. That’s what experts are for. After all, who has time to get into the wide ranging technical aspects of total home maintenance? So let yourself off the hook for once, and instead of trying to DIY your plumbing to save a few bucks, go ahead and call a local plumber. Honestly, it will save you time and money in the long run. Not to mention, if you have a messy sewer leak on your hands, trying to DIY a plumbing fix can even be a health hazard.

2) Failing to Fix Leaks Right Away

One of the most common things homeowners tend to put off for later is taking care of things like leaky faucets. Whether you’re wasting water by leaving the faucet dripping around the clock, or have hidden leaks in your pipes, not addressing these issues can result in higher water bills, or even worrisome damage to your property.

One sign of a sewer leak is an unusual green patch in your yard. Such waste water can fertilize the surrounding area, so unusual plant growth is a clue that there may be an underlying issue to blame. It’s essential to note that leaks can disturb your home’s foundation over time, and also lead to mold growth, which poses health hazards as well.

3) Flushing The Wrong Things Down the Toilet

Plumbing systems are more delicate than many homeowners realize, so there are certain things that should never be flushed down your toilets. Be sure that things like trash, paper towels, baby wipes, and sanitary products are always thrown in the trash instead. If you have children in your household, it’s also important to teach them what can and can’t be flushed down the toilets. Otherwise, pipes can become clogged, leading to expensive plumbing repairs, or even emergency plumbing services.

4) Using Chemical Cleaners to Clear Clogs

While this seems like a cheap and simple solution, it’s not. Unfortunately, using chemical cleaners can eat away at your pipes. They also emit toxic fumes that can be dangerous to your eyes as well as your respiratory system. Some chemical cleaners are advertised to be able to clear a drain blockage with just one application, but, in actuality, this is seldom effective. Unfortunately, you’re actually more likely to damage your plumbing with these “quick-fix” products.

5) Placing Grease or Food Down the Sink

One of the most common plumbing mistakes that people make is putting grease or food waste down the sink. This is generally disastrous because it ends up clogging the pipes, even if you have a garbage disposal. It’s important to remember to always dump food waste in the trash or in a special container used for grease, etc. Certain types of food can’t go down your garbage disposal. For example, it’s just not designed to take on heavy-duty substances, like fruit rinds, despite the fact that we’ve all been told to freshen things up with a lemon.

Tip: It’s also very important not to put food waste in your dishwasher because it can get stuck and cause clogs. There isn’t really anywhere for it to go.

6) Not Scheduling Plumbing Maintenance

One of the best ways to save money on plumbing repairs or to prevent major issues, like a sewer leak, is to schedule regular plumbing maintenance for your home. Rather than waiting for there to be an emergency plumbing problem, it pays to take a more proactive approach. Our advice is to have your system looked over at least once a year by a trusted plumbing company.

7) Not Hiring an Experienced Plumbing Company

Before hiring a plumber to come to your home, you really need to do a little research. You don’t want to put yourself in a frustrating position by relying on someone who doesn’t have enough experience to take care of the problem. It’s better to spend some time learning more about a plumbing company before you make up your mind. A reputable plumbing service should have reviews or testimonials on their website or social media pages. It’s also important to ensure that they’re licensed and insured so you aren’t putting yourself at financial risk if they’re somehow injured on the job.

Need Help?

Like any other system in your house, you have to take care of your plumbing to make sure it lasts a long time. If not, you risk dealing with expensive plumbing repairs or even water damage and mold. These mistakes can wreak havoc on your home, and take money and energy to fix! We hope this blog post helps you better understand your home’s plumbing. If you have any questions for us at Palo Alto Plumbing, or would like a free estimate, please give us a call at (650) 856-3400. Our friendly staff is here to help.

The Dangers of a Sewer Leak

A sewer leak is one of the most dreaded household plumbing malfunctions. Though most modern homes have preventative measures already in place, pipes can degrade or get damaged over time, creating prime conditions for a leak. If you regularly experience household mold, strange odors, slow draining, extra foliage growth with no alternative explanation, or cracks in the foundation of your home, it’s time to call a plumber. You may be dealing with a sewer leak.

The unpleasant eau de excrement odor aside, a sewer leak can be quite dangerous to your health and your home alike. The consequences of neglecting a leak, aside from being unsanitary, can lead to some serious issues for your home and well-being. Read on below to learn more about some of the most common dangers of a sewer leak.

Poisonous Sewer Gas

When human waste breaks down, it forms a byproduct known as sewer gas. Sewer gas is composed of several chemicals, including ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. This smelly gas is often identified as smelling like rotten eggs – but is it toxic?

The answer is yes and no. In low concentrations, sewer gas is foul but not necessarily harmful. At higher concentrations, or if you are exposed for a long period of time, you may experience symptoms of sewer gas poisoning. Left unchecked, these symptoms can lead to serious health issues for household residents, including pets. This is why, if you suspect a leak, it’s crucial to call a plumber immediately.

Ammonia is a toxic chemical at high levels. Low to moderate exposure can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. High levels of ammonia can cause death in humans.

Hydrogen sulfide is one of the main components of sewer gas. Research shows that hydrogen sulfide is toxic to the organ systems of the body – meaning that exposure can lead to organ damage and death.

While carbon dioxide and methane are not inherently harmful to humans, you do not want these gases hanging around in the air that you breathe. Methane alone is highly flammable. In combination with ammonia (which is also flammable), these gases are a serious fire hazard.

If you suspect sewer gas exposure, contact a medical professional and an emergency plumber immediately.

Contaminated Water

Old or damaged pipes can crack, rust, degrade, and eventually seep into nearby groundwater. This worst-case scenario can contaminate your water supply. What’s worse, if your neighborhood uses aquifers for groundwater, contamination can occur on a much larger scale. An entire neighborhood could suffer poisoning from one cracked line.

The health consequences of drinking water contaminated with sewage cannot be understated. Even healthy individuals may experience disabling gastrointestinal problems, stomach cramping, dehydration, developmental problems, reproductive problems, or death. Such consequences can be avoided by having your plumbing checked approximately every two years. It’s just not worth the risk of skipping essential maintenance.

Home Damage

Sewer leaks can cause the foundation of your home to crack as well. As water or sewage leaks pool in various areas of your home, it can cause the ground to shift. All of this erodes at your home’s foundation from the bottom up, which can cause cracks in the foundation and even buckle your patios or driveways.

Water damage is also a common side effect of a sewer leak. If your septic tank is located close to your home, or if the leak is severe enough, you may experience flooding and water damage to your house. Water alone can cause serious structural damage to a home, but the chemicals and hazardous byproducts from natural waste can make that damage much more severe. Drywall can give out, mold can form, and, ultimately, supports can even become unstable. A bad leak can leave a house almost uninhabitable if left alone for long enough.

Unwanted Critters

If you choose to neglect your leaking sewer, you may as well tape a sign to your window that declares “PESTS WELCOME.” Sewer leaks can attract a host of unwanted vermin. Rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, possums, and chipmunks naturally search for hidden sources of water away from prying eyes. Drippy pipes are naturally enticing. If you provide a convenient water source in the form of a leak, expect to see (or hear) some crawly new friends.

That includes insects! Cockroaches, mosquitoes, ants, spiders, and termites are just a few of the insects that are commonly attracted to standing water and sewer leaks. These sneaky insects often build whole colonies before they’re ever noticed. Maintaining your pipes is an easy way to prevent such animals and insects from invading your home.

Increasing Water Bill

If your water bill has been steadily increasing and your house smells funny, you may be paying for a sewer leak. All of that water not only damages your home, but it can put a serious dent in your wallet too. A moderate water leak can cause you to waste 6,000 gallons of water per month. That’s an incredible waste of water and money.

And remember – all of that leaking water is seeping into the foundation of your home, creating the prime conditions for mold and mildew.

These serious dangers are not something to put off. Neglecting your leaking sewer can cause damage to your home and your health. The best way to avoid these problems is to solve them before they arrive by way of prevention. You should never attempt to fix a serious plumbing problem on your own. It could be a real safety hazard and you may accidentally cause more damage. A licensed plumber will have the proper equipment and expertise to repair your sewer. Additionally, a licensed plumber should regularly inspect your home’s plumbing system at least every two years, and more often if problems arise.

When You Need a Plumber

Here at Palo Alto Plumbing, our licensed plumbers can solve anything between a drippy faucet and a cracked sewer pipe. Our detail-oriented and knowledgeable plumbers can ensure your household’s health and safety by providing quality services. Don’t let a fixable leak destroy your home. Contact us at 650-405-3052 or fill out a contact form on our website to chat with one of our representatives about all of your plumbing needs!