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What kind of maintenance should I do on my plumbing?

Like many problems in life, plumbing disasters usually happen because of neglect.

Most homeowners don’t think about their pipes until they’ve got a clogged drain or a chronic leak. Here are five easy, inexpensive ways to prevent your home’s plumbing from causing a predicament.

1. Treat your drains once a month to prevent clogs

Whether they seem to need it or not, but stay away from harsh, chemical drain cleaners. I like a natural, non-poisonous product called Bio-Clean, which uses a blend of bacteria and enzymes to attack organic wastes like grease, hair, food particles and sewage. You can use it on drains, grease traps, sump pumps and garbage disposals. Regular use will prevent clogging throughout your plumbing and septic system. Dilute the product with warm water according to package directions.

2. Be kind to your kitchen sink

Its drain is the busiest one in the house, so it can cause the most problems. If you don’t have a garbage disposal, be fastidious about keeping out food scraps and grease, which can emulsify once you turn on the cold water, and build up in layers in your pipes until they’re blocked. If you have a garbage disposal, run plenty of cold water every time you turn it on. If it chops up waste without water, particles will not flush through and you can wind up with a clogged drain.

3. Don’t flush anything down the toilet except for toilet paper

That includes facial tissue, Q-tips and even products labeled “flushable.” A tip: Switch from two-ply to single-ply toilet paper. The less you flush, the fewer visits you’ll need from the plumber. Your old toilet, which flushed five to seven gallons of water every time you used it, could handle more debris. Newer, low-flush models use only 1.6 gallons per flush, and are more easily clogged with paper and “flushable” cleaning products.

4. Know how to shut off the water supply

If a pipe bursts and an unending flow of water pours out, your home could flood and require expensive repairs. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the main shut-off valve is located, and which direction to turn the valve to stop the water. Look for yours on the same side of the house as the water meter. Can’t find it? Call a plumber to help you locate it and test its operation. Then fix a bright tag to it so family members know it when they need it.

5. Invest in a water softener

Arizona’s “hard” water can cause limescale to build up inside your plumbing pipes, faucets, drains, appliances and even your water heater. That buildup can clog pipes, prevent soap from dissolving and create an ugly white mess on kitchen and bathroom faucets. A whole-house water softener will replace the harmful minerals in hard water with sodium, which does not create those problems.

For more information and for answers to all your plumbing questions, contact Benjamin Franklin Plumbing at (602) 903-1762.