One of the things in your home that would be hard to live without is indoor plumbing. While it is something that you need, it’s also something you probably don’t think about often (because it just always works). However, when it does stop working, it is usually a big problem and a huge headache. When you ask most plumbers, they say that the major problems can usually be avoided with some simple plumbing tips. The most important tip is that in order to keep your plumbing running in top condition, you should never put some things down the drain. Here are five of the most common things people put down the drain that they should not.

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1. Grease and Fats

The one place in a home where the most stuff goes down the drain is usually in the kitchen. One of the worst things you can put down your drain is any form of fat; bacon grease, lard or shortening. This can be so bad for your drains because it causes overflows which lead to major problems. Fats tend to harden when they are cold, even if they are liquid when you send them down the drain. When they harden they can create major obstructions that are not easily removed. They also tend to cling to the sides of pipes and create a build-up over time, which eventually leads to a large blockage. Not only can these cause a log jam in the pipes, but they can also ruin your garbage disposal unit. When you deal with fat, it is better to wipe out pans with paper towels and/or collect any grease or liquid in a steel or aluminum cans to be disposed of later.

2. Hygiene Products

In pretty much every public bathroom there are signs about not putting feminine hygiene products or incontinence products down the drain. For some reason or another, there are still plenty of people who ignore the signs and warnings in those places and in their own home. These products don’t break down in sewage systems. In fact, most of the types of products are made to swell with the introduction of any moisture to absorb it, which makes the products get significantly bigger, causing blockages in pipes that aren’t easily dealt with.

3. Chemicals, Poisons, or Medications

There are many different liquids, powders or pills which are either put down the drain or flushed. This is a definite no-no. This list includes any kinds of chemicals, poisons or medications. The reason that these should not go down the drain is because they contaminate the water supply. Even though the water is treated, some of the substances are not easily removed and can be dangerous to those drinking the water.

4. Garbage

Some people might think that by putting things down the drain it would actually help the landfills not build up as much. This is all around incorrect thinking. There are so many different things that people will send down the drain that should go into the garbage can instead. The most common things that people put down the drain are paper towels, chunks of garbage and produce stickers. Each of these can cause big problems as they do not break down. Even when the garbage disposal is on and you think it will cut them up, it’s more likely it will not.

5. Hair

While this may seem like common knowledge, it can be difficult to prevent it from going down the shower drain. There are plenty of products that help to prevent hair from going down the drain. You can place hair catchers over the drain, which will stop any large masses and still let the water through. Cleaning these out, as well as the drain in general, is a good idea to do at least once a week, if not more often, so that you can help prevent clogged drains. A last bit of plumbing advice is to also try using unclogging gels from time to time to help clear things out.

When she isn’t showing off her DIY knowledge to help friends out, Amanda Peters is working on projects around her house and writing on topics ranging from home style and décor to do-it-yourself repairs and plumbing advice.

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