Plumbing can be a tricky task – especially when you throw in all of the common misperceptions and “tricks” that Do-It-Yourselfers sometimes rely on. We thought it might be a good idea to post some common questions, with answers, to the wonderful world of plumbing.

1. How can I make my disposal smell fresh again?

It’s long been thought that a simple lemon will do the trick. However, putting a lemon down the disposal can actually do more harm than good. While this may be a temporary fix in terms of a nice fresh smell, the citric acid from the lemon (or any citrus fruit – depending on your scent preference) can cause corrosion on the metal in your disposal. A better idea is to put ice cubes down the disposal. While it will be noisy, the ice does a great job cleaning and polishing the disposal. It will remove the scum that is causing the bad odor in the first place.

2. Does running water really help wash down waste placed in the sink disposal?

This is something we have all done at one time or another. We place waste in the disposal and then flip on the faucet to watch it all go down. But, you may have noticed this doesn’t really work at times. The reason it’s not working? The food and waste is still traveling down the drain in front of the water. So, just like sending “dry” waste down the disposal, the buildup and block is occurring before the water arrives. This isn’t to say water won’t help in any disposal situation.  Filling the bottom of your sink with a little bit of water, adding the waste you want to send down the drain, then turning on the disposal should be effective. This gives the sitting water a chance to break up the food and let’s the two go down the disposal at the same time, making it a smooth process all around.

3. Are plumbing fixtures low maintenance?

While fixtures often seem sturdy and stable regardless of age, leaving them unattended to or unused can cause some big problems. The performance of these plumbing fixtures can suffer after long periods of ignored care or sitting for a long time without being used. Parts and pieces can deteriorate if you don’t turn fixtures such as faucets on every once in a while. Don’t forget about uncommonly used sinks in basements or garages and even water spigots outside. Taking a few short minutes to run these faucets can keep them running properly for years and ensure you’ll have water when you do need it from these sources.

4. “In-Tank” toilet-cleaning products don’t seem to work well – is there a better alternative?

The in-tank cleaners that come in gel packets or solid cubes can be a waste of money. Often times, all they are doing is bleaching that smelly buildup in the toilet, not getting rid of it. Instead, try pouring a small amount of vinegar down the overflow tube in the back of your toilet. It will work effectively and cost a fraction of the money you’d be wasting on the other toilet cleaners.

5. Do I really need the user manual if I know what I’m doing?

Believe it or not, user manuals aren’t just for people who don’t know what they’re doing. Certified professional plumbers, like ours at BelRed, consult manuals regularly. They are full of great information – not just labeled pictures and lists of parts. User manuals include information on proper usage and care instructions that can save you time and money in the long run by extending the life of a product. There is also often valuable information on warranties that you want to be sure to read. Chances are the manuals won’t be the most entertaining reads of your life, but reading them in detail can pay off big time.

While there are things you can certainly do to care for and maintain the plumbing around the house by yourself, don’t be afraid to bring in an expert for bigger jobs, like a professional plumbing crew from BelRed. This is a good decision not just from a performance and long-term cost standpoint, but also from a safety standpoint. We’re happy to help with any of your plumbing needs in the greater Seattle area from Bellevue to Ballard, Maple Valley to Marysville, and everywhere in between.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this plumbing Q&A where we’ll explore a few more commonly asked questions. Thanks for reading!

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