COVID-19 is without question the story of the world right now. With the virus spreading and the number of cases rising, people everywhere are being encouraged to practice “social distancing,” meaning eliminating as much face-to-face human contact as possible. For millions of people, this means spending as much time at home as possible, including working from home if they have the ability to. That means people everywhere will be relying on their home’s most important systems, including their plumbing, far more often than before.
However, relying on these systems more than before, as well as with the unique demands that they may face over the next few weeks, homeowners of all types may find that they’re dealing with some rather unique problems they’ve never seen in the past. If you want to avoid having to reach out to a plumber for an emergency during this difficult time, here are a few crucial plumbing do’s and don’ts that you should follow for a safer and more stress-free quarantine.
Don’t Flush Paper Towels
One of the most interesting phenomena that has occurred as a result of CDC recommendations is the mad rush to purchase toilet paper. Stores everywhere can’t keep the stuff in stock, and shelves that were usually jam packed with options now lay barren and empty. That means there is a very real possibility that someone will run out of toilet paper and be unable to purchase more in the immediate future. If this is the case, you may be tempted to utilize a different paper product to serve your needs.
However, your drains and plumbing fixtures are not designed to handle flushing these types of paper products, and you can quickly back up a drain line by doing so. This is particularly true for paper towels, as they are designed to remain strong, durable, and unbreaking even when wet and put under heavy stress loads. Paper towels are not a substitute for toilet paper: do not flush them down the drain. If you must use them as a bath tissue substitute, throw them directly into the trash and empty the trash straight away.
Do Disinfect Your Faucets & Fixtures Often
Sanitation is extremely important if you’re looking to stop the spread of illnesses. COVID-19 can be easily transmitted by touching a surface that an infected person touches, so it’s in your best interest to clean your most-handled surfaces frequently. Much of your focus should be on things like contacted toilet surfaces (ie the seat and handle) as well as the handles on your faucets. Clean them with an anti-bacterial cleaning solution at least once per week, and even once every few days to make sure they remain sanitary throughout the self-quarantine period.
Believe it or not, this can also help if you struggle with things like caked-on limescale or other effects of hard water. Some anti-bacterial cleaning solutions can slowly break through this scale and remove it from the surface of your faucets, leaving them cleaner and shinier than they have been in ages!
Don’t Put Starchy or Stringy Foods Down the Disposal
As you’ll likely be doing a lot of cooking in your own kitchen, you’ll probably be giving your garbage disposal a pretty substantial workout over the next few weeks. That means you’ll want to take care of it however possible and make its job as easy as it can be. Garbage disposals can’t handle everything you put down the drain, and some things can actually present a number of problems both for your disposal itself and for the drain it is attached to.
Here are a few things you shouldn’t put down the garbage disposal over the next few weeks, or at any time for that matter:
- Stringy foods like asparagus, corn husks, pineapple, or other foods that have a fibrous texture are notorious for forming clogs in your drain line and acting as a net so they can “catch” other bits of food that go down the drain as well.
- Starchy foods like flour, cornstarch, bread, or other things that expand and become sticky when wet tend to stick to the walls of drain lines and become integral “glues” that hold clogs together.
- Solid waste like bones or eggshells can both ruin the internal mechanics of your garbage disposal and create great structural material for a clog to build up off of. Throw these things away instead.
Do Call a Plumber Right Away If You Have a Problem
If you find a plumbing problem while in an emergency like what we’re experiencing now, you may be tempted to ignore it or leave it be until you receive news that it’s safer to start going about your normal life again. However, this can be devastating for your plumbing lines. An unresolved clog, a slow leak, or any other issue can grow or expand, becoming exponentially worse and more expensive to repair. This is why you still shouldn’t hesitate to call a professional.
Here at Moe Plumbing, we’re taking numerous extra precautions to protect ourselves and our customers during this time. Our technicians wash their hands after every visit, disinfect and clean their tools each day, always wear gloves and shoe covers to every service call, and always keep their work area clean to protect you and keep your home sanitary. Plus each is encouraged to constantly monitor their own health and we will not send any technician into the field who is even slightly ill, no matter in what way.
If you have a plumbing emergency while in social isolation, reach out to the team at H.L. Moe Co. by dialing (818) 396-8002 and get the help you need today.