8 Common Plumbing Myths And The Truth Behind Them

The oldest known plumbing systems were in Egypt and India as far back as 4,000 BC–that’s over 6,000 years ago–so there has been a lot of time for plumbing myths to spring up!  But why was plumbing invented so early in human history, and why is it so important to us in modern times?

What Is The Importance Of Plumbing In Our Daily Lives?

When lots of people live in a small area, like a town or city, human waste builds up.  This causes many health concerns and problems, including bad odors, poor sanitation, and the propagation of diseases.  Because of all of that, when the first real cities started popping up, it wasn’t long until plumbing was invented to manage human waste. Modern plumbing uses materials and engineering that the average person is not familiar with, and because of this many myths have come about.

1) Toilets Flush The Opposite Direction In The Southern Hemisphere

It is true that the Coriolis Effect created by the Earth’s rotation makes things like massive storm systems rotate clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere. But this is because they are so huge that they are strongly affected by it. The tiny amount of water in your toilet is far too small to be significantly affected by the Coriolis Effect.   Yes, in a perfect world with absolutely no other disturbances toilets would flush in opposite directions in each hemisphere. But in the real world, the direction would end up pretty much random–except that the water jets that empty into your toilet bowl enter at an angle, which initiates a spin so that it will drain more strongly. Tip: Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

2) Putting A Brick In Your Toilet Is A Good Way To Save Money By Using Less Water

Like the example above, there’s some sense behind this idea.  The brick will displace water and make your tank flush with a little less water.  But it will be less water than your toilet is designed to flush with–which isn’t the same as a toilet that is designed to be water-efficient. Besides that, the heavy brick can block or even damage the mechanisms in the back of your toilet. And the brick can deteriorate over time causing additional blockage and damage. Tip: If you want to save money on water, get a water-efficient toilet. And don’t put things in the tank or bowl of your toilet that aren’t supposed to be there. Like bricks.

3) Grinding Lemon Or Orange Rinds In Your Garbage Disposal Cleans It

Most people think citrus rinds smell good, so grinding them up in your disposal will smell good. But it doesn’t actually clean your disposal in any way, and vegetable or fruit peels of any kind–especially thick, tough ones like rinds–are prone to gunk up or jam your disposal. Tip: A safer way to reduce any odors in your disposal is to pour one cup of baking soda and then one cup of vinegar down the disposal. Then after waiting 10 minutes wash it down with hot water with the disposal running.

4) Grinding Ice Or Egg Shells In Your Garbage Disposal Sharpens The Blades

Garbage disposals don’t have sharp blades that chop up food, they have impellers that grind it up. And eggshells don’t break down well and can cause clogs, or their membranes can gunk up your disposal. Tip: Ice, on the other hand, is generally safe and can be good for knocking stubborn food or gunk off of the impellers to clean the disposal a bit.  It won’t do much for odors, though.

5)  Flushable Wipes Are Safe To Flush Down The Toilet

If you want to take good care of your toilet plumbing, nothing but toilet paper and human waste should be flushed down it.  Flushable wipes are just that–flushable.  You can flush them. But they don’t break apart and disintegrate like toilet paper is designed to. So they can still get caught and cause clogs that won’t break down the way toilet paper would. Tip: Just don’t flush anything but your business and toilet paper down your toilet. Just don’t.

6) Drain Cleaning Chemicals Are Effective & Safe

Because they’re sold in stores it’s easy to assume that they’re safe and effective, but because they use caustic, poisonous chemicals like strong acids or bases, drain cleaners are actually potentially dangerous. One thing to really watch out for is that, since cleaners are often ineffective, you may be tempted to use a mechanical method like plunging or snaking after trying a drain cleaner.  This can lead to breathing in toxic fumes or getting burning acid or base on your skin. IMPORTANT Tip: NEVER mix chemicals in your drain. This can lead to VERY dangerous fumes or even explosive reactions depending on the chemicals.

7) Plumbing Is Easy

There is a reason most states require a plumber to have a license. As we said at the beginning of this article, plumbing uses materials and engineering principles that most people aren’t familiar with. It’s just a bad idea to try DIY plumbing unless you really know what you’re doing Also, you can’t assume all plumbers are the same.  You not only want a licensed, experienced plumber, you want a plumber with experience in the kind of plumbing you’re looking for.   Tip: Whether it’s plumbing installation services or plumbing replacement services you’re looking for, take your time and find a plumber who’s licensed and experienced in exactly the kind of plumbing service you’re looking for. 

8) Plumbing Maintenance Isn’t Really Important

Pipes corrode and break down over time and hoses can develop leaks or even burst. Spending the little bit it costs to have a professional plumber check your drains, water pressure, and explore for leaks can be one of the most money-saving things you can do for your home.

How Often Should I Check My Plumbing?

Most plumbing professionals recommend a plumbing checkup once per year, and with good reason. If you catch a plumbing problem early it can save you a lot of money in plumbing repair and even water damage. At Strittmatters, we’ve been offering licensed, experienced plumbing services to the people of Flower Mound Texas for over 40 years, so we’ve heard all the plumbing myths before! If you need plumbing repair or plumbing installation in Flower Mound, Just click here or call us at (972) 362-4135 for more information!

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