Worrying about cleaning your plumbing is probably the last thing on your mind right now. Unfortunately, however, as you spend more time social distancing at home, the health of your plumbing will become critical. The last thing you want is to get stuck home with a clogged toilet or broken faucet.
Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to help ensure your plumbing stays fully-operational right now. If you’re looking for simple and productive ways to take your mind off of things for a little while, taking care of your plumbing fixtures is a great idea. Each of these cleaning and maintenance projects is easy, quick, and doesn’t require very many tools:
Clean your drains
Most drain clogs don’t occur all at once. Instead, gunk and grime builds up inside your drain pipes over time. Clearing out that gunk early will help you prevent most future clogs. We recommend periodically cleaning out your sink, shower, and tub drains even if they don’t seem clogged. And now’s the perfect time! All you need is some white vinegar, baking soda, and hot water.
First, pour around ½ a cup of baking soda down your drain. Follow that up with ½ a cup of white vinegar and let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. While you’re waiting, repeat this process on each of your drains. Boil one cup of water per drain you’re cleaning. After 15 minutes, pour one cup of your hot water down each drain. The chemical reaction of the baking soda and vinegar breaks up the gunk in your drains, and then the hot water flushes it away.
Clean your traps
The “trap” is the curved pipe beneath every sink that connects the drain pipe to the sewer pipe. Depending on the shape of their curves, traps are sometimes called “p-traps,” “s-traps,” or “u-traps.” The curve of a trap is meant to retain some of the water you flush down the drain. This water creates an air seal that prevents sewer gases from rising back up through the drain. Unfortunately, traps frequently retain the other stuff you inadvertently flush down the drain.
Luckily, traps are easy to remove and clean. First, find the trap under your sink. It’s curved, made of either metal or PVC, and connected to each pipe via two slip nuts. Put on some rubber gloves and place a bucket beneath the trap. Detach it by loosening the slip nuts, either by hand or using a wrench. Pour everything in the trap out into the bucket. Check to make sure nothing’s caught inside the trap, then scrub it out. When you’re done cleaning, replace the trap by re-tightening the slip nuts. Run the sink to make sure everything’s working correctly.
Clean your showerheads
It’s not just your imagination: your shower may not be working as well as it used to. Luckily, the cause of the problem is a surprisingly simple one: it’s probably your showerhead. Over time, scale build-up, minerals, and other gunk may clog up your showerhead’s nozzles. This happens more frequently when your home has hard water. Cleaning your showerhead is a quick and easy way to the most out of your showers again.
There are a couple of ways to approach this. First, try dipping an old toothbrush in a cleaning solution and scrubbing the nozzles. If that doesn’t work, try throwing ½ cup of white vinegar, ½ cup of baking soda, and 1 cup of hot water (remember this?) into a plastic bag. Tie the bag around the showerhead so the nozzles are submerged. Finally, try taking apart the showerhead following the manufacturer’s directions. Find the filter inside the showerhead and clean it out in the sink. Scrub out the nozzles from the inside while you’re at it.
Clean mold out of shower grout
Mold spores are everywhere, which means mold can spread in any environment conducive to its growth. Mold grows in dark, humid environments, which means it can be a real problem in bathrooms–particular in showers. The space between shower tiles is the perfect place for mold to find purchase. Over time, mold growth could get out of hand and spread to other parts of your bathroom. If it gets bad enough, it could even have a detrimental effect on your health.
Before you get started, ventilate your bathroom properly. Open the door and window if possible, and turn the overhead fan on. Next, put a cleaning solution such as white vinegar (again!) into a spray bottle. Spray the solution directly into the spaces you want to clean. Scrub the mold out using a coarse scrub brush. An old toothbrush may work well to reach between tiles. If you have caulk, you could replace any worn-out grout after cleaning.
If you have the time and energy for it, committing to a little plumbing cleaning is never a waste. Any cleaning you do now could prevent a much more annoying and time-consuming problem later on. Social distancing is the perfect time to get a headstart on all spring cleaning, and plumbing cleaning is no exception!
Remember, however: in the event that you don’t have the time or energy to do any plumbing maintenance, you’re not alone. Mike Diamond is still open for business and ready to help with any plumbing problem, no matter how major or minor. Whether you need a fixture cleaned, maintained, repaired, or replaced, just give Mike Diamond a call any time. Stay healthy!