Myths can be a lot of fun sometimes, either because they can be humorous, scary, or just plain outlandish. And they can pop up in almost any walk of life, including your household plumbing. There are many common plumbing myths running around out there, some of which are relatively harmless, and others that aren’t so benign.

Take Australian toilets for example. The Simpsons based an entire episode around the myth that toilet water drains in the opposite direction down under. The thinking process is that the Coriolis Effect is in play in the Southern Hemisphere, which is why cyclones spin one way there and another way on our half of the planet.

But the water in flush toilets, no matter where they are, go the direction the toilet jets are designed to go. Clockwise or counterclockwise flushing is all dependent on the construction of the toilet, not which hemisphere you live in. Still, this is kind of a fun myth that is easy to latch on to.

Other myths, however, are not so genial and can end up giving you headaches in the long run. So let’s take a look at some of these common plumbing myths and explain why they may not be as helpful as once believed.

Common Plumbing Myths

Lemons in the Garbage Disposal

This was a pretty common plumbing myth for a while–and is still suggested by some that may not have a plumbing background. The thought being that the lemon smell would help make the kitchen smell better while the acidity would do double-duty as a garbage disposal cleaner. And while it may make things smell better, for a bit, lemon peels can actually do more harm than good.

A garbage disposal will do its best to grind the peel to smithereens, but it won’t liquify the rind. So those little pieces can accumulate after a while, leading to clogs and a backed up kitchen sink. As far as the acidity helping clean things up, if you use too much, it can actually harm the metal components in the disposal.

The best way to clean your garbage disposal is to consult your manufacturer’s guide to cleaning the unit. If you don’t have it handy, stick with hot water and a little bit of bleach while the disposal is running. Another safe and effective suggestion is to sprinkle a half cup of baking soda into the disposal, followed by a cup of white vinegar and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then run hot water and run the disposal to wash the concoction away.

Another garbage disposal myth: ice cubes sharpen garbage disposal blades. In fact, many garbage disposals don’t have blades at all, but rather teeth that grind waste to a pulp before sending it on down the line. Ice may have a little cleaning power to them in the disposal, but will do little to sharpen non-existent blades.

Flushable Wipes are Safe for Toilets

Just because some is “flushable” doesn’t mean it’s safe for your toilet–or the rest of your plumbing system for that matter. Toilet paper is designed specifically to break down in water over a period of time. Wipes, baby wipes for example, are manufactured to retain moisture for long periods of time–that’s what makes them so refreshing to use!

But it also means that they will just sit in septic tanks or sewage treatment facilities where they will eventually need to be broken up manually or removed entirely. That’s if they don’t end up clogging your system first. This goes for some hygiene products, makeup wipes, and other toiletries not designed specifically for the toilet. Use the garbage can under the sink instead.

Brick in the Toilet Tank Saves Water

Like most myths, there is logical reasoning behind putting a brick in the toilet tank to use less water. Because less water is needed to fill the tank, you won’t need as much water. However, toilet tanks are built to a certain size to facilitate the flushing action that takes all of the waste away.

If there isn’t enough water for the toilet to do what it needs to do, it might take more than one flush to get the job done. So you end up using more water in the long run. Also, the brick itself will break down over time, shedding little hunks of debris that could end up clogging the system.

Want to shrink your water bill when using the toilet? But a toilet that is specifically designed to do just that. Just as the name implies, dual flush toilets are made to use enough water for liquid waste as well as solid waste. Less is needed for liquid of course, so that’s where the savings come in.

Boiling Water As A Plumbing Cure-All

There’s no doubt about it–hot water is better at cleaning stuff than cold. This is true if you’re doing the laundry, washing dishes, or taking a shower. Okay, that last one may be more about comfort than cleaning power, but the point remains. However, using hot water may only make issues worse in a few cases.

Take grease for example. Yes, hot water does an excellent job of cleaning out pans, pits and other cookware after use. But grease hardens when cooled and eventually the water you used will cool enough for that grease to solidify. Basically, you’re just creating these grease blobs further down the system where they’ll be more difficult to deal with.

If you have a large amount of grease to deal with (like with bacon!), just use a can to collect the grease, let it cool, and then throw it all away. Boiling water has also been recommended for clogs in the sink. The thought is that the water will help break down all the grime and debris, making it easy to flush away.

And that can be true to a point. But there are times when that gunk will break down a little bit and then settle together in a more solid mass. If you’re dealing with a clog, consider removing the p-trap to investigate or use a small household plumbing snake to remove the blockage. You’ll end up doing that anyway.

Common Plumbing Myths Busted

There are plenty of other myths out there–a small leaky faucet is nothing to worry about, a rumbling water heater means it’s about ready to explode, drain cleaners are safe for constant use. But it’s always best to consult with a professional plumber for accurate advice and solutions to any plumbing issues you may have.

Having plumbing problems not related to the Coriolis Effect? Give Meticulous Plumbing a call and let our experience save the day!

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