As a new homeowner, you’re now the proud owner of a plumbing system. This means that, sooner or later, you’re going to need to troubleshoot basic plumbing problems, or know when to call your professional plumber. So, keep reading, and hang on to these helpful tips that may just save you from a watery mess one day.

Getting to Know Your Plumbing

From your main sump, sinks and toilets, water heater and even the vent pipe poking through your roof, get to know your new home’s plumbing:

Water and gas main: In the event of an emergency, such as a burst pipe or gas leak, you’ll need to act fast to minimize damage.

  • Sump pump: Does your basement have a sump pump? Test it! Using a garden hose, fill up the pit to ensure the pump works. Turn off the breaker to test the battery backup power supply.
  • Water shut-off valves: Locate all of your water shut-off valves near sinks, toilets, the washing machine and your water heater. Turn them off and back on to test them.

Garbage Disposal Do’s and Dont’s

Garbage disposals are tough appliances. However, they are not impervious to damage and failure. In other words, they shouldn’t be treated like a garbage bin.


  • Cold water: When running the disposal, use a strong flow of cold water to help flush debris down the drain pipe.
  • Ice cubes: Every few months, grind ice cubes in the disposal to sharpen the blades.
  • Freshness: If your disposal begins to stink, grind up several orange or lemon peels to neutralize odors.


  • Grease: Don’t pour grease down the disposal or sink. Instead, pour grease into a safe container and dispose of it in the trash bin.
  • Grounds: Coffee grounds become more dense as they collect water.
  • Stringy vegetables: Celery, asparagus and other stringy veggies wrap around the blades and reduce efficiency.

Toilet Problems

If your toilet begins to overflow, don’t panic! Simply turn off the water shut-off valve located on the wall behind the toilet. Next, put on some gloves and grab your plunger.

A running toilet wastes water and can be quite annoying at times. Luckily, this is usually an easy fix.

  • Chain: Lift the lid to the toilet tank. Is the chain stuck between the flapper and the seat? Shorten the chain a few links.
  • Flapper: Re-adjust the flapper if it’s not sitting flush on the seat. Mineral deposits could be causing a gap for water to leak. Clean the flapper and seat. Or, simply replace the flush valve assembly.

Plumbing Emergency Kit

To help minimize water damage to your home or damage to appliances, be prepared! Use a five-gallon bucket as an emergency preparedness kit, and stock it with the following items:

  • Flashlight
  • Plunger
  • Allen wrench set
  • Slip-joint pliers
  • Channel locks
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Multi-bit screwdriver
  • Absorbent rags
  • Duct tape

Finally, treat your plumbing right and you should do well to avoid many problems. Schedule preventive maintenance with your plumbing professional before winter to service your sump system, water heater and to perform a general plumbing inspection.

If you have questions about your new home’s plumbing, contact the plumbing professionals at MN Plumbing & Appliance today!