Plumbing is an essential of modern life, so when a problem occurs within a drain or fixture, it needs to be dealt with right away. From toilets and bathtubs and garbage disposals and water heaters, each fixture gets daily use. In addition, the pipes that deliver clean water to your home and the waste water and sewer lines that take it away all need regular maintenance to operate efficiently and effectively. As a homeowner, you can minimize the risk of plumbing system problems by following these simple DIY tips for drain cleaning and unclogging toilets and pipes.

Unclogging Toilets
A clogged toilet can quickly lead to a big, smelly mess. To begin, turn off the water supply to the toilet. To do this, locate the metal knob behind the toilet and turn it as far to the right as it will go. If a small object such as a toy has fallen into the toilet, put some rubber gloves on and manually extract the item or use the handle of a toilet brush to fish it out of the bowl. For clogs due to toilet paper or waste, vigorously plunge the toilet with a rubber plunger. Lastly, try a toilet snake to push through the clog. These devices can be purchased at your local hardware store.

Drain Cleaning
All sorts of debris can make its way into the drains of sinks, showers and bathtubs as well as from the washing machine. Hair, soap scum, toothpaste, food and for families with children, any small object that could fit into the drain could be lurking within the pipes. Keeping the drains clear can prevent an unsightly and unwholesome mess from happening. To keep drains clean, take these steps:

*Every two or three days, run hot water down the drain for several minutes. This liquifies solid or thickened debris like soap scum and grease.

*Once each week, pour one to two tablespoons of baking soda down each drain. Follow this up with 1/4 cup of white vinegar or lemon juice. Allow the mixture to bubble and sit for 30 minutes before using that drain. Then flush the drain with hot water for several minutes.

*For kitchen sinks, send a brine solution through once each month to get rid of grease buildup from cooking and washing greasy dishes.

*Use a drain strainer to collect hair and lint in shower drains and washing machine drains. These can also prevent unwanted items such as washcloths or bathtub toys from going down the drain and creating a clog.

Check for Leaks
Check for leaks in faucets, underneath sinks and around tub and toilet seals at least once each week. Most faucet leaks result from a worn out washer, which is easily replaced in just a few minutes of time. If there is discoloration of the wood, mold or mildew growth or moisture present under a sink, there is likely a leak. Some toilet leaks can be fixed by adding more caulk, while other leaks may be more serious and require replacement of some of the plumbing materials or even the entire toilet. Peeling paint, mold or dampness on a wall or a warped floor are signs of a leaking pipe within the wall or floor. This situation usually requires the expertise of a professional plumber.

Our thanks to Ryan Edun, for these helpful tips.  These weekly maintenance ideas would also be a good idea for offices and other places of work. pb