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We’re very accustomed to indoor plumbing. Our lives in Cibolo, TX would be very different without it. Modern plumbing is much more complex and extensive than at any other time in history, but plumbing is a very old concept. The Romans had very advanced plumbing systems in many parts of the empire during its long reign from 500 B.C. to A.D. 455.
King Louis XIV of France commissioned a cast-iron plumbing line to carry water from a nearby pumping station to the plethora of fountains surrounding his palace in Versaille. That plumbing line was constructed in 1664. Obviously, plumbing is not a new concept, and it has a very long history. Plumbers of some kind have existed as long as plumbing systems. Any profession or idea with such a long history will attract myths and misconceptions over time, and plumbing is no exception.
Myths Swirl Around the Toilet
The toilet is a popular subject when it comes to plumbing myths. This ubiquitous appliance is found in the vast majority of homes across Cibolo, TX, and the rest of the country. Some myths almost work in reverse. Many people assume that stories of animals entering homes through toilets are urban myths. Unfortunately, this ‘myth’ has a factual basis. Rats, snakes, and insects have been known to enter homes and businesses through toilet bowls, although this doesn’t happen very often. Most toilet-centered myths aren’t as exciting or nerve-wracking, depending on one’s perspective, but it’s important to separate fact from fiction.
Some people believe that toilet bowl tablets with bleach are the best method to keep toilets clean. Although bleach can kill bacteria, you should avoid tablets containing bleach if the tablet is designed for use in the tank. Bleach is safe to use in the toilet bowl, but substances containing bleach can destroy many working components in the toilet tank in as little as six months. If you do want to use bleach in the toilet tank, don’t let it sit for more than 10 minutes.
One common myth is supported by advertising. Flushable wipes are supposedly safe to flush. It’s right there in the name. However, these items are only flushable in a very technical sense. They can be physically flushed from the toilet bowl. Unfortunately, these wipes can cause stubborn, nearly immovable clogs in pipes. Flushable products can also wreak havoc on a septic system. The packaging on many of these products contains warnings that they aren’t safe for septic systems. Consumers may overlook the warning about septic tanks, but flushable wipes and similar items really aren’t safe for plumbing infrastructure or sewer systems of any kind.
A household in Cibolo, TX, may safely get away with flushing one or two wipes at a time, but that isn’t a common scenario. Wipes are used many times throughout the day, especially in homes with infants and small children, so wipes don’t have time to disintegrate before more wipes are deposited on top of them. If your toilet or pipes are clogged with wipes, you probably need a professional plumber. Amateur attempts to fix the problem aren’t likely to succeed. Professional plumbers have specialized equipment to dislodge and remove clogs and baby wipes caught in pipes.
Flushing cat litter may seem like a perfect solution. Used litter can be heavy, smelly, and generally unpleasant. What could be better than simply flushing it away? Unfortunately, cat litter can clog pipes and damage your home’s plumbing. Never flush cat litter into a septic tank, especially clay litter. It will fill your tank and you’ll need to call your plumber to pump the tank much earlier than expected. Some litters are made of paper, corn husks, and other biodegradable materials. These litters are a good option for many reasons. They’re environmentally friendly and you can dispose of them in a compost pile instead of filling the garbage. Several types of biodegradable litter are labeled as ‘flushable,’ but it’s best to ignore that label and dispose of it some other way.
It’s not always easy to figure out where a myth originated, such as the myth that putting a brick in a toilet tank saves water. The idea behind this advice is that a brick in the tank will make the toilet use less water while flushing. However, the brick may displace too much water and result in more water used for flushing. Bricks can also disintegrate and clog or damage parts of your toilet. If you’re concerned about the amount of water used by your toilet, ask your local Cibolo, TX plumber about low-flow toilet models.
Lightning in the Bathtub
Sometimes myths develop in strange ways. Many of us were warned by our parents not to take a shower or bath during a thunderstorm. Now, many people believe that was a myth with no basis in fact. Strangely enough, it wasn’t a myth. Lightning can enter a home by traveling through metal pipes. Most metals conduct electricity. Water doesn’t actually conduct electricity, but the water coming out of the taps in our homes isn’t just water. It contains all sorts of impurities. Although these impurities aren’t harmful, they provide a way for electricity to travel through water. Water without any impurities, such as distilled water, doesn’t conduct electricity.
Maintenance and Appliances
Myths related to common maintenance tasks or large appliances spread quickly at times. Helpful advice from friends and family or websites dispensing wisdom may be well-intentioned, but that doesn’t mean they’re always accurate. Don’t take any plumbing advice at face value unless it comes from a trusted professional plumber.
Many people don’t distinguish between toilets, sinks or other drains when it comes to using a plunger. It may seem like there is no difference and a plunger can be used in the same situations to clear any drain, but this isn’t always safe. Don’t use a plunger on a sink drain after treating it with drain cleaner.
Plunging a sink may pull the drain cleaning solution up and back out of the drain. Droplets spraying in all directions can splash the skin or eyes. Drain cleaners are full of corrosive chemicals that can burn skin or damage eyes. Frequent use of drain cleaners can damage your pipes as well. Consult a plumber if you’re having trouble with clogged sinks and drains.
Gurgling and bubbling sounds coming from a hot water heater tank do not mean the tank is going to explode. This surprisingly widespread myth can cause a lot of anxiety for those that believe it. These sounds are frequently caused by air circulating in the tank or sediment near the burner. Call a plumber in Cibolo, TX if you notice unusual or loud noises from your water heater.
Small, slow drips from faucets are a problem. A common misconception leads people to believe that a tiny leak with very little noticeable water loss isn’t a big deal and doesn’t need to be fixed immediately. This can be a very expensive myth. Even slow trickles add up and may significantly increase monthly water bills. Schedule a visit from your local plumber as soon as possible when you first notice a leak.
Lots of plumbing myths revolve around food. This isn’t surprising. We all have to eat, which means we have to clean up after preparing and consuming our food. Minimizing clean-up time is normal, but we need to be cautious and make sure we don’t create more work for ourselves later. Food-related myths can easily lead to a call to your local plumber.
Grease: Liquid or Solid?
Grease is a liquid, therefore it’s perfectly safe to pour it down the drain. This is a very pervasive myth. Unfortunately, grease is only a liquid when it’s warm. Grease and used cooking oil quickly congeal into a thick, sticky substance when it cools. Pour leftover grease and oil into a can or other container to dispose of in your regular household trash. Grease can cause very stubborn and problematic clogs.
Congealed grease sticks to pipe walls and catches other substances flowing through the drain. Small particles of food, hair, and even soap scum get stuck in globs of grease and create a semisolid clog that can block pipes completely. Some sewer systems in urban areas are plagued with ‘fatbergs.’ Restaurants, and even a large number of residential households may pour a lot of grease into the sewer system.
Large grease deposits pick up almost everything they come into contact with and form large, hardened mounds of gunk. Plumbers and other sanitation workers with a wide range of specialized equipment may need to spend weeks breaking up and removing a single fatberg. If your plumbing develops its own mini fatbergs, you’ll need a plumber to help you get rid of it.
Boiling Water and Grease Deposits
Treating grease like a liquid sometimes leads to another myth, which is pouring boiling water down the drain to dissolve grease. Grease becomes a liquid when it’s hot, so heating it with boiling water should liquify it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work. The boiling water doesn’t stay in contact with grease deposits long enough to increase its temperature to the melting point. Boiling water may stay in contact with grease for a short time if the pipe is completely clogged. Water would be trapped behind the clog, but the water also cools quickly after it’s removed from a heat source and poured into pipes.
This practice can even make the problem worse. Outer layers of deposit may melt slightly, but they harden again almost immediately. Temporarily melted grease can become even harder when it solidifies again. Consult a plumber to manage grease clogs. It’s very difficult to manage such clogs without plumbing skills and tools, but there is an additional concern as well. Built-up grease and clogs near the drain may be the tip of the iceberg. Deposits of grease and debris can form in any pipe that transports wastewater to a septic tank or sewer system. A plumber can address clogs located in sewer mains and other stretches of pipe that homeowners have a very hard time accessing.
Running Water Isn’t a Disposal Free-For-All
Another food-related myth states that anything can go through the garbage disposal if you run water the entire time. This practice is very likely to end with damaged garbage disposals and clogged pipes. Stringy food waste, such as celery, banana, or potato peels can wrap around parts of the disposal. Water makes no difference. Hard substances such as nutshells or tough fruit rinds can damage the blades, and water doesn’t help this situation either.
Lemon Peels and Ice Cubes
The belief that ice cubes can sharpen garbage disposal blades is a very stubborn myth. An ice cube can’t sharpen disposal blades. Lemon peels are not a great way to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal, no matter how many magazine articles or lists of ‘lifehacks’ claim otherwise. Citrus fruits contain citric acid. Although citric acid is relatively weak compared to some other acids, it’s still a corrosive substance that isn’t good for the blades or other metal parts of a garbage disposal. Thick citrus fruit rinds can also clog the disposal and dull the blades. Call your local plumber if your garbage disposal emits foul odors. Food may be stuck in and around internal components of the disposal. Clogged or soiled drains may let foul smells escape into your home as well.
If your disposal has already sustained damage, a plumber can inspect the appliance and help you decide if it should be repaired or replaced. Your plumber may be able to complete minor repairs quickly on the first visit. Major repairs that include dismantling the disposal and replacing multiple parts can become rather pricey. Buying a new garbage disposal may be the most economical choice.
Contact bluefrog Plumbing & Drain of San Antonio for your household plumbing needs in Cibolo, TX. Licensed, experienced professional plumbers can handle everything from routine maintenance and repairs to remodeling jobs. bluefrog also offers emergency services when you need a plumber right away.