13 Common Plumbing Myths

Since becoming a homeowner, you’ve probably become a master at do-it-yourself maintenance projects. One of the joys of owning a home is the pride that comes along with fixing up your own property and not having to rely on a landlord and their schedule to solve basic issues.

Along the way, as you’ve learned these skills to keep your home running efficiently, you have surely learned some myths about home maintenance as well. Heiland Home Services is going to dispel some of the most common plumbing myths so that you have a better understanding of the plumbing system in your home, and can continue taking pride in the do-it-yourself projects that turn your house into a home.

Myth #1: My sink and shower aren’t clogged, so everything is fine!

This myth is mostly true because water flowing freely down the drain of your sinks, showers, and toilets is what is supposed to happen. However, it is a mistake to use this as the only determining factor of your plumbing being in working order. A clog doesn’t usually happen in an instant. A clog accumulates over time and the water wont simply stop, but the draining process will slow down at an often-imperceptible pace. Remember to pay attention not only to if your water is flowing down the drains, but the speed at which the water is flowing as well.

Myth #2: A lemon peel is a great way to clean and freshen your garbage disposal.

While it’s true that lemon peels add a pleasing scent to an often odor-filled appliance like your garbage disposal, the peel does not have the ability to clean your garbage disposal. In fact, putting a lemon peel in your garbage disposal can dull and even break your blades. If there is a persistent odor coming form your garbage disposal, don’t mask the odor with citrus, simply turn off and disconnect the garbage disposal, then use baking soda or non-abrasive cleaners made specifically for plumbing fixtures to clean build-up from the blades.

Myth #3: Anything can go down the garbage disposal if water goes down it too!

A garbage disposal is not made of titanium blades and therefore, it has limitations. As a rule, anything that is not food should not go down your garbage disposal, and even then, the food that does go down your kitchen sink should be limited to small particles of leftover food. Thick food items like grease, eggshells, and coffee grounds are all examples of things that will not get along well with your garbage disposal. Using water to force large pieces of food down the drains will cause clogs and damage to your pipes.

Myth #4: If your faucet is leaking, just turn the handles tighter.

If you turn the handles to your sink in the “off” position and water continues to leak out, there is a problem. Ignoring this issue and simply turning the handles tighter can actually cause damage so severe that your pipes can break, which is a more expensive fix than a simple leak.

Myth #5: It doesn’t matter which plumber I call; they all do the same job.

Not all plumbers are created equal. Some lack experience and licensing. Some are simply still using out-of-date practices and tools. When choosing a plumber, make sure to search around and check reviews from previous customers they have served. Heiland Home Services proudly displays our many 5 star reviews on our website and are honored to have served our customers with such excellence.

Myth #6: If my water heater is making noise, it’s going to explode!

Before you start crying over the price of a new water heater, call Heiland Home Services. The noise from your water heater could be something as simple as a sediment build-up in the tank. The loud noises you are hearing could be the sediment keeping the heat from being able to warm up the water in your tank efficiently, which makes it expand and turn to air bubbles. These air bubbles cause the noises you are hearing, and our service expert will be able to identify this and recommend a simple repair or in extreme cases, a whole new water heater.

Myth #7: Flushable wipes are flushable.

Just because something can flush down the toilet, that doesn’t mean it should flush down the toilet. Sanitary wipes marketed as “flushable” are causing problems for pipes and plumbers. Technically theses wipes are made with biodegradable material which allows companies to list them as “flushable” on their packaging, but because the breakdown of the materials happens so slowly, these “flushable” wipes accumulate in your pipes causing problematic clogs.

Myth #8: Toilets flush in the opposite direction south of the equator.

This long-standing myth rose to popularity in part by something known as the Coriolis Effect. This scientific fact teaches that cyclones rotate in opposite directions depending on which hemisphere they are in. While this is true, the amount of water in a toilet is not enough to produce the Coriolis effect. Instead, the direction in which the water in your toilet cycles, is determined by the jets. We know this myth doesn’t affect any home maintenance you are doing, but we still wanted to share!

Myth #9: Drain chemicals are safe.

The first thing most people do when encountering a clogged drain is to use a liquid drain cleaner. While this seems like a simple and inexpensive way to dissolve a clog from your pipes, the chemicals in these products actually erode your pipes causing long term damage and more expensive repairs in the future. For basic clogs, the best thing to use is a plunger or auger. If you have already used a drain cleaner, DO NOT use a plunger as this will damage the pipes even more.  If the drain still remains clogged, call Heiland Home Services before reaching for one of these hazardous drain chemicals.

Myth #10: In-Tank cleaners are safe for your plumbing system.

While using those convenient drop-in tabs is tempting to keep your toilet clean, the truth is that they aren’t really effective. While the bleach in these tabs can kill bacteria and viruses, it still cannot completely remove the buildup in a toilet bowl which means eventually you will have to scrub your toilet bowl the old-fashioned way. In addition to it not actually cleaning your toilet, the bleach itself can do long-term damage to your pipes and toilet bowl since the chemicals from these in-tank cleaners remain in the bowl and the pipes longer than a traditional cleaning.

Myth #11: Lightning cannot travel through pipes.

People have been arguing this for decades. Some claim it is an old wife’s tale and others say that it is a legitimate concern. What does science say? Science has proven again and again that metal, like the metal that is in your homes plumbing system, serves as a conductor of electricity. This means that if a lightning bolt strikes an exterior pipe, the electricity can indeed travel through your entire plumbing system. While installing PVC piping can lower the risk of a lightning strike, we still recommend avoiding showering and bathing during a storm.

Myth #12: Hot water melts grease.

The logic of this myth comes from the fact that hot water really does break down grease. Anyone that has ever washed the residue from a bacon skillet can see that. What you can’t see is that as the grease travels further down the pipes, the pipes cool off and therefore resolidify the grease. Once the grease solidifies it can trap smaller debris causing an even bigger problem. To complicate matters even more, these clogs accumulate further down your piping system away from your house making the repairs more costly.

Myth #13 Putting a brick in your toilet tank will save on water.

While we commend the intentions of water conservation, we need to warn you that bricks sitting in water for prolonged periods are destined to break down and when they do, those tiny particles will make their way into your tank and bowl. This can cause damage to your toilet overall and specifically to the flapper. A better solution is to look into water conservation friendly toilets. There are many to choose from on the market today that will save water without damaging your toilet.

If some of these myths came as a surprise to you, there’s no need to be embarrassed. These myths have been around for a long time and because some of them do have bits of truth to them, they are easy to believe. Heiland Home Services is here not only to help you with your plumbing needs, but also to educate you. We want you to take as much pride in your home as we do in helping you maintain it!