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Mythbusters: Plumbing Edition

The Plumbing Authority Heating & Cooling

Like anything that is complex and not completely understood by the masses, there are many misconceptions and myths about home plumbing. We are breaking down some of the most common plumbing myths that we’ve encountered in our time.

#1 Baby wipes are flushable

Myth. Though baby wipes are often called “flushable wipes” you should avoid flushing these down the drain as often as possible. One or two wipes every once in a while might be okay, but flushing too many in a day without enough time for them to dissolve could cause a stubborn clog that only a professional can remove.

#2 Animals can enter your home through your toilet

Fact. This isn't common, but it is possible for water snakes and rats to travel through your plumbing and end up in your toilet. Rats are notorious for surviving and thriving in the most unlikely conditions, including your sewer system. They could easily catch a scent and follow it through the sewer and into your plumbing system only to get caught in the toilet.

As we said, this isn’t the norm so don’t expect to lift the toilet lid and see an animal anytime soon.

#3 Chemical drain cleaner is good

Myth. While chemical drain cleaner is easy to use and seems like the most convenient option when you have a clogged sink or shower, it is NEVER good for your plumbing. Chemical drain cleaner works by creating a chemical reaction that gets very hot and melts whatever is blocking your drain. However, this chemically created heat not only melts and breaks down the clog, but it also has a destructive effect on your pipes.

Do your best to avoid using chemical drain cleaner when you can and if you find yourself with a particularly difficult drain clog, call a professional plumber.

#4 You should close your toilet lid before flushing

Fact. When you flush your toilet with the lid up, a fine mist of bacteria filled water will fill the air. This is known as aerosolization, the process by which a physical substance is transformed into the form of particles light enough to be carried into the air (like an aerosol spray). Mythbusters did an episode about this process and confirmed, unfortunately, that when you flush a toilet with the lid up particles of feces will be almost everywhere in your bathroom, including your toothbrush.

However, we should note that these particles are so small that the risk of becoming sick due to ingestion of these is very slim, unless the person using the restroom is sick.

#5 Toilets flush backward in Australia

Myth. This myth is based on a weather phenomenon called the Coriolis Effect. This effect makes air spin in different directions depending on which hemisphere you’re in, but it is far too weak to affect the flow of water in a toilet. Instead, the flow of water in your toilet is dictated by the shape of the toilet bowl.

#6 A slow dripping faucet is no big deal

Myth. A faucet that drips once a second every day wastes about 5 gallons of water every day, which is equal to nearly 2,100 gallons every year. Now imagine what would happen if you had more than one dripping faucet in your home or office building. Additionally, a dripping faucet or dripping water from anywhere in your home could be a sign of something much bigger.

To be safe, make sure that you call a professional if you notice multiple leaks in your home. While you should be able to fix one leak, many leaks could be a larger problem, and you should get a professional opinion before moving forward.

#6 A garbage disposal will cut your hands

Myth. While we wouldn’t recommend sticking your hand inside of your garbage disposal, they do not operate in the way the movies would make you believe. Most people have this idea that garbage disposals are made up of sharp blades spinning in circles chopping up the food. While each disposal is made a little differently, none of them have blades in them. However, when spinning they can still cut your skin, but not in the gruesome ways that movies depict.

If you ever encounter a plumbing problem and aren’t sure how to proceed, call the Knoxville, TN experts at The Plumbing Authority.

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