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7 Common Plumbing Myths

Did your parents put a brick in the toilet tank to save water? Pour drain cleaner down the sink to clear a clog? If so, you’re not alone. Common plumbing “tips” are often passed down from generation to generation. But acting on these myths can make plumbing problems worse or introduce new issues that can cause damage and expensive repairs. Our plumbing pros debunk seven common myths so you can avoid unintentionally damaging your plumbing system.

Myth #1: It’s safe to discard flushable wipes down the toilet.

Despite the name, flushable wipes aren't safe to flush. Their material isn’t instantly water-soluble and won’t disintegrate like toilet paper does. Wipes can pile up in your plumbing and form a clog or create deeper issues in your sewer or septic system before they dissolve. The same goes for baby wipes, makeup wipes, and feminine hygiene products. Toilet paper and human waste are the only things you should flush.


Myth #2: Putting a brick in the toilet tank will save water.

The theory behind this myth is that a brick in the toilet tank will reduce the volume of water in the tank and save you money. But doing so can impact the overall performance of the toilet, as your tank was designed to hold a certain amount of water. A brick will also deteriorate, break off and crumble in your toilet tank. Eventually, it will make its way through the toilet drain, compromising your pipes and septic system.


Myth #3: Rumbling noises from the water heater mean my system will burst.

Loud noises from your water heater are a result of excessive sediment buildup in the tank. If the sediment is in large enough chunks, it can bang against the sides of your water heater tank, producing noise. These noises can be alarming, but it’s just your heater’s way of telling you it needs a check-up and most definitely, a professional cleaning. If not addressed, an influx of sediment will impact efficiency and could lead to premature failure of your water heater.


Safety Note: The smell of gas coming from your water heater should ALWAYS be checked by a professional who can properly diagnose your equipment.


Myth #4: It’s safe to bathe during a lightning storm.

Copper plumbing and the water inside are excellent conductors of electricity, making it unsafe to use water for bathing or household tasks during a thunderstorm. While the risk of lightning traveling through plumbing is low, we recommend waiting for a storm to pass before using running water.


Myth #5: Liquid drain cleaners are safe and effective to use.

Drain cleaners contain harsh ingredients that can deteriorate your pipes and ruin your septic system tank. Because these products are also not effective, attempting to unclog a drain by combining several different drain liquids could cause a serious chemical reaction. Stick with plungers, augers, or contact our licensed plumbing team to fix any clogs.


Myth #6: Hot water can wash grease safely down the drain.

Many homeowners believe that hot or even boiling water will melt grease and carry it safely through the plumbing system. However, once that liquefied grease gets deeper into the pipes, it cools down and re-solidifies, narrowing the pipeway and eventually clogging your pipe. We recommend keeping a heat-proof container to collect grease and toss it in the trash when it’s full.


Myth #7: Ice cubes will sharpen the garbage disposal blades.

This myth has grown out of the popular recommendation to use ice cubes to clean garbage disposals. Garbage disposals don’t have blades, but instead have two teeth-like features that grind any solids into a liquid as the unit spins. So while ice won’t damage your disposal, it also won’t sharpen the blades.


Plumbing Installation, Service, and Repair

Now that you’re empowered with the facts, you can protect your home and family from these plumbing blunders. As always, if you have questions or are in need of service, contact our home comfort specialists today. We have the training and experience to help keep your plumbing system working in proper order.


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Amesbury, MA 01913

978-834-0849   |   877-800-HVAC

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Main Stream Mechanical, Inc. is a full-service plumbing, heating, and air conditioning company. We service a large portion of Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.