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How convenient would it be to have a plumber in the family, especially when the kitchen drain is clogged? We asked Heath Vickers, owner of Mr. Rooter in Tampa Bay, Florida, for some insider tips for handling plumbing problems. His plumbing hacks are the next best thing to having a brother in the business — and you can do them yourself.
Dry shoes without the noise
Tired of hearing tennis shoes banging around in the dryer? Tie the laces together in a bow then hang shoes on the inside of the door. No more noise. Dry on medium to low heat. You may put a few small items like facecloths in the dryer at the same time but avoid larger items because they can catch on the tennis shoes.
Save money as you flush
To save water (and money) with each flush, place a 20-ounce water bottle in the corner of the toilet tank. Each flush will use less water because of the displacement in the tank. Make sure the bottle of water stays at the bottom of the tank and is not free-floating. Also, keep it away from any moving parts so it doesn’t interfere with the flushing mechanism. Another water-saving option is to install an efficiency flapper, which uses less water to flush.
Recover lost items
To retrieve objects that have fallen into the toilet, use a wet/dry vac, never a plunger. First, remove the vacuum’s filter before sucking water into it. Then direct the hose into the toilet, going as far down the drain as possible. You should be able to hear or feel when the object is sucked up, especially if it’s something like a toy. For very small objects like jewelry, try adding a crevice attachment to the hose. It may make it easier to see when smaller items are picked up.
Stop the dripping
Dripping faucet driving you crazy? As a temporary fix, tie a string around the faucet with enough length to reach the drain. This will quiet the dripping sound until you can get a plumber to fix the leak. FYI, the most common reasons for dripping faucets are a worn washer, a bad internal seat or a worn or faulty faucet cartridge. Too high water pressure (over 80 pounds per square inch, or psi) could also damage a faucet and cause a leak.
Unclog the sink
For grease-clogged kitchen sinks, pour ¼ cup of Dawn dish detergent into the drain. Allow it to work for 20 minutes. Follow with a quart of boiling water. The Dawn will emulsify the last bit of grease put down the drain and the boiling water will soften the grease to move it down the line. However, cautions Vickers, you should still call a plumber to check on a potentially larger problem resulting from years of grease build-up.
Plumber’s tip: Don’t use chemicals. They corrode the pipes, and some of the new, thicker gels can actually cause a clog themselves. Because the acid in these chemicals could destroy plumbing, especially if you don’t know what type of pipes you have, try the Dawn/boiling water method first. If that doesn’t work, call your plumber.