12 Money-Wasting Things Your Plumber Wishes You’d Stop Doing

Learn how to avoid problems before they become costly plumbing issues.

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Updated June 6, 2024
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Your home can be a welcoming place when everything is running properly—and a major headache when things go wrong.

By avoiding a few common mistakes, you can avoid many problems and keep more cash in your wallet by eliminating the need for expensive repairs.

If you are a homeowner, plumbers wish you would stop making these money-wasting mistakes.

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Throwing everything in the garbage disposal

New Africa/Adobe woman peeling potato

A garbage disposal is a great device for cleaning up scraps at the end of dinner. However, you should not stuff everything down the disposal if your goal is to build wealth instead of spending money on expensive repairs.

You probably know not to put avocado pits or chicken bones down the disposal, but you should also avoid tossing egg shells, coffee grounds, and even potato peels.

Flushing anything except toilet paper

Am.p Photographer/Adobe flushing toilet bowl for sanitary

Toilets can get backed up if you try to flush the wrong things, including flushable wipes and paper towels.

Limit your flushing to toilet paper. Put everything else in the trash where it belongs.

Using harsh chemicals to clear your drains

galaganov/Adobe removal of blockage in sink

Drains can get gross and clogged up, making it necessary to find a way to clear out stoppages so your drain flows again.

However, harsh chemicals can cause major problems with your drains, especially after repeated use. Instead, consider gentler remedies, such as vinegar and baking soda, to loosen up clogs.

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Overtightening connections

Kurhan/Adobe male plumber fixing sink

“Lefty loosey, righty tighty,” is a great mantra to remember when you are fixing problems. But some folks go overboard when they are turning right.

Overtightening connections can cause cracks and other issues that lead to leaks and additional problems later on.

Putting hot grease down your drain

richard/Adobe abstract background golden machine grease

One of the unfortunate side effects of cooking is dealing with hot grease from meats and other foods.

You may be tempted to just toss the grease down the sink, but hot grease will cool in your pipes before it gets completely down the drain. That can clog up things.

Instead, consider pouring grease into a container like an empty glass jar to let it cool so you can safely toss it into the trash later.

Waiting to clean a slow drain

Win Nondakowit/Adobe water drain on kitchen sink

Slow drains can be annoying, especially if you're taking a shower with water pooling at your ankles or watching toothpaste slowly drain out of the sink.

If you notice drain issues, address them right away. Waiting can cause more debris to build up, making it harder to clean.

Fixing problems without the right tools

Monkey Business/Adobe plumber fixing leak in sink

Tools are an important part of any repair process, so make sure you have the right ones before you start the job.

Using the wrong tools or realizing you are missing tools halfway through the process could cause more issues.

Not checking local building codes

Svitlana/Adobe woman working as plumber

Building codes dictate how repairs can be performed. These codes are in place to protect homeowners and properties.

If you don’t make a repair that meets a building code, you could set yourself up for costly repairs later on. Your fix might not resolve the problem, or the fix might not pass inspection when it’s time to sell your home.

Not brushing your hair before a shower

LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS/Adobe woman brushing hair in bathroom

If you have longer hair, get in the habit of giving it a quick brush while you wait for the shower to get warm.

Brushing your hair before a shower can get rid of loose hairs that could clog the drain and cause costly repairs later.

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Forgetting your plumbing when planning landscaping

Smole/Adobe applying turf rolls in backyard

Landscaping is a great way to beautify your home on the outside and give it more curb appeal.

But before you plant trees or add a concrete patio, consider your plumbing. Tree roots can affect your water line.

Not knowing where your shutoff valve is

glebchik/Adobe hand spins valve close-up

It can be scary to have a water emergency and not know how to stop the flow into your home.

So, long before an incident occurs, make sure you know where your water shutoff valve is. That way, you will know exactly what to do if you need to shut off the water. This can help you limit damage and save money on repairs.

Fixing problems yourself

Rawpixel.com/Adobe woman fixing kitchen sink

Some easy fixes — such as unclogging a toilet — might not require a plumber, but be honest with yourself about your ability to handle other plumbing issues.

Yes, we all want to get ahead financially by saving money. But it is better to have a professional work on the problem from the start so you don’t have to call in a pro later to fix any mistakes you have made.

Bottom line

Catalin Pop/Adobe sad male fitter having headache

Plumbing issues can get expensive, so it’s important to have an emergency fund with money set aside for major repairs.

Consider keeping cash in a high-yield savings account, so you have money on hand for home repairs, car accidents, or medical emergencies.

Financial experts suggest you keep around three to six months of living expenses in an emergency fund. It might be a good idea to set boundaries for when it’s OK to use the money. That way, you won’t be tempted to withdraw the cash for non-emergencies.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen

Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.