How Often to Get Your Pipes Checked

Find out what substances commonly cause your pipes to clog or break. Learn how to find a professional plumber and ways to keep your pipes clean.

Whether you are renting a property or own a home, it is important to maintain your pipes. Pipes are an essential part of your plumbing system, helping to move water to your appliances and release waste into your sewage line. Some of the most common appliances hooked up to your pipes include sinks, showers and toilets. There are several ways your pipes can stop working. The most common issue is your pipes become clogged. They may still technically work, but a clogged pipe is a serious warning sign and can lead to broken pipes, which are expensive to replace.

There are some issues you can fix yourself, as well as several steps to reduce the chance of a blockage or other issue. For more serious pipe issues, you must hire a professional plumber. Not only do plumbers have the experience to fix your pipes, but they also have access to expensive tools. Plumbers can also identify where the problem originated. Some issues may appear to be related to your pipes, but are actually caused by a faulty water supply or a broken connection.

Maintaining your Pipes

Hiring a plumber can get expensive. As of writing, the common price for a plumber in Australia is around $50 to $80 an hour, with most plumbers setting a minimum number of hours for their service. Depending on the issue, you may also need to pay extra for new parts. Instead of relying on a plumber, you can save money by regularly maintaining your pipes.

A common cause of pipe drains is improperly disposing materials down the drain. When you are washing your pots and pans, make sure there is not any lingering grease, fat or oil, as these are harmful materials for your pipes. Consider setting up an empty coffee can or a small mason jar near your stove so you can dispose any grease or oil and safely deposit it later away from your sink. One of the most effective ways to keep your kitchen pipes clean is to install a drain cover with a strainer. Make sure to regularly clean the cover when you wash your dishes.

There are several other materials you want to keep out of your sink. Pasta and rice can both cause damage to your pipes, so make sure to thoroughly clear off plates before placing them into your sink. You also want to avoid coffee grounds or bits of egg shells getting into your pipes.

It is not only your kitchen sink you must worry about. Your bathroom pipes can also clog if the wrong materials are flushed. Avoid any paper towels or other, non-flushable paper products. This includes wipes advertised as flushable or toilet friendly. Despite the advertisements, these products cause unnecessary wear and tear on your pipes. 

If you are a cat owner, avoid flushing cat litter. Most litter is made out of clay, which clumps up and hardens when exposed to water. Even a small amount of litter can harden inside of your pipes and cause a significant block. While there are some biodegradable litters with no clay components, pipes are not designed for this type of litter, so it can still cause issues.

Cleaning your Pipes

It is easy to overlook cleaning your pipes because they are not visible. Plumbers recommend cleaning your pipes at least once or twice a week. There are a few different methods to keep your pipes clean. One way to breakup potential clogs is to pour hot water down your pipes. Hot water will break up any particles stuck in your pipes before they have a chance to grow and become a larger clog. Plumbers recommend boiling a few liters of water, which can be poured directly down your drain. The only exception is if you have PVC pipes. With PVC pipes, use warm water, but avoid letting it boil, as extremely warm temperatures can cause your PVC pipes to break down.

Another way to keep your pipes clean, especially in the kitchen, is to pour a cleaning solution down the drain. You can create a cleaning solution using baking soda, warm water and white vinegar. Start by pouring 125 mL of baking down, followed by 125 mL of vinegar. Plug your drain for about an hour. The chemical reaction will break down any particles within your pipes. After an hour, flush out the chemicals with warm water. If vinegar is not available, you can use either salt or lemon juice as well. With salt, only wait 30 minutes before pouring water down your pipes.

If you want to keep your pipes as healthy as possible, you can schedule a yearly cleaning with a plumbing service. During the cleaning, plumbers will use specialized cameras to examine your pipes and look for any potential clogs, clearing them out as necessary.

When to Hire a Plumber

There are several warning signs you may need to hire a plumber to fix your pipes. The most obvious is if your pipes continually get clogged no matter what cleaning methods you use. Clearing out a clogged drain is not difficult with the right tools, but the longer you leave the drain untreated, the more damage to your pipes. You may even need to replace your pipes, which typically costs several thousand dollars.

Another clear warning sign is leaky pipes. Sudden drops in water pressure, as well as sputtering pipes when you use a faucet are also potential plumbing issues. If you live in a colder climate and you start experiencing pipe issues, it is possible water is freezing inside of your pipes. This is a serious issue as the water expansion can cause your pipes to crack or burst, resulting in a plumbing emergency.

How to Hire a Plumber

There are many plumbing services in Australia, including both small and large businesses. One of the most effective ways to find a plumber is through your social network. Chances are, you know someone who has previously hired a plumber. Ask your friends and family for recommendations. If this is not an option and you must look for your own plumber, make sure he or she is certified by a group like Vetassess or Trade Recognition Australia. You can also search on job sites like Airtasker to find plumbers in your neighborhood.