By their nature, plumbing emergencies are messy. From a leaking water heater to a frozen pipe that ruptures, water can damage your home and take a substantial amount of time and expense to clean up. This is particularly poignant during the winter, as you spend more time indoors and your plumbing system sees more use. To avoid a stinky mess in your Minnesota home this season, consider the following tips on how to avoid plumbing emergencies.

Clean Your Drains Regularly

Cleaning your kitchen drain regularly helps keep pipes clear, which prevents clogs and odors. Use a good drain cleaner every few months in your sink, and be mindful of what you put in it.

  • Clear your plates into the garbage before putting them in the sink or dish washer.
  • Use a sink strainer to catch food and utensils before they’re washed down the pipes.
  • Never pour grease into your sinks. Grease hardens and sticks around in the trap and pipes. Recycle grease or dispose of it in your garbage bin.

Don’t Abuse Your Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are convenient appliances to have in your kitchen. However, keep in mind that your sink’s garbage disposal isn’t a trash can. You have to be careful what you put in there or it could damage the parts.

  • Don’t stuff your disposal, and make sure it runs until it’s cleared. You don’t want food sitting in there creating odors.
  • Like your sink, don’t pour grease into the disposal.
  • Avoid putting bones and fibrous vegetables in the disposal.
  • Ice cubes and citrus peels are great for clearing and cleaning your disposal.

Toilet Bowl Care Tips

A plunger is your friend when it comes to avoiding toilet bowl overflows. Though, to avoid more urgent situations and emergencies, proper toilet bowl care is necessary.

  • Never ever flush anything down your toilets that is not human waste or toilet paper.
  • Be wary of pre-moistened “flushable” wipes. They take longer to break down and can cause sewage back-ups.
  • Clean your toilet the old-fashioned way — with a scrub brush, spray or powder cleaner and wear gloves.
  • Avoid using drop-in bowl cleaners. The corrosive chemicals can be problematic for tank parts and piping. Some toilet manufacturers have even voided warranties for using drop-in cleaners.

Insulate Your Water Pipes

Insulating your pipes saves energy, delivers hot water at the fixture faster and helps prevent your pipes from freezing, which can cause hidden leaks or rupture the pipe. Pick up some pipe insulation wraps at your home store to insulate all of the accessible pipes (hot and cold water pipes) in your home.

Maintain Your Water Heater

Except for your heating and cooling systems, your water heater probably uses more energy than any other appliance in your home. The care you give your water heater helps save energy, maximizes its service life and can help prevent a plumbing catastrophe.

  • Drain one gallon of water from the drain bib every few months to help remove contaminants.
  • Completely drain and clean your water heater once a year.
  • Check the storage tank and piping for corrosion at the beginning of each season.

Clothes Washer

Take a look at the hoses installed behind your clothes washer. Are they black rubber hoses? If they are, replace them with stainless braided hoses. Rubber hoses have been known to burst and spew water in your home at the rate of up to 5 gallons per minute.

If you have questions about avoiding a plumbing emergency or you’re overdue for a plumbing inspection, call the professionals at MN Plumbing & Appliance today!