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Plumbing Dos and Don’ts for all Homeowners

We've all been there — whether it's a clogged toilet or an obstructed drain, plumbing problems always tend to pop up when you least expect them. However, if they appear a little more frequently than usual, there's a chance that you may be performing plumbing malpractice in your humble abode.

To lessen the chances of a plumbing issue in your living space, the professionals at Red Lilly Plumbing are here to help provide some common dos and don'ts to help make that possible.

How a Foul Odor Forms in a Drain

Fact: Not every drain will smell like freshly cut roses when you hover over it. Whether it be the kitchen sink or the shower drain, there's a chance that your "highway for water" may have a foul, lingering odor that is anything but pleasant. While the origin of the stench may seem like an utter mystery, here are a few scenarios that may reveal its source:


One of the hardest-working details within the plumbing system is a drain. As it's known, this feature works as the "freeway" for "used water" to leave your home and enter the sewer system to be brought to a water treatment facility. While your drain may seem to be working up to par, there's a strong chance that bacteria build-up may be present within it.

Typically, when this is the case, there's a chance your drain will have a not-so-pleasant smell every time you stand over it. The reason why that foul fragrance appears is typically due to a drain being overdue for a cleaning — since other items (such as food particles) may have migrated down with the "used water"; if they're lingering around, they could be causing the stench.

To help combat this, consider scheduling a drain cleaning service with a professional and being mindful of what you put down the "freeway for water."

Dried Out P-Trap

Do you have a sink or shower in your home that isn't used that often (i.e., a guest bathroom)? If that's the case, you may happen to notice a foul smell arising from the drain. While the root cause may be a mystery, it's quite clear what the problem is — cue the p-trap.

In plumbing, a p-trap is intact to help block sewer smells from rising into your home. However, when the p-trap becomes dried out, it will allow that bad sewer smell to travel back into your living space.

Luckily, to help get rid of the stench, make a conscious effort to turn on the faucet/fixture and let some fresh water trickle into the drain; this will help keep the p-trap in tip-top shape.

How to Prevent Drains from Clogging

If you feel as if your plumbing drains run into blockages more often than you'd like them to, there's a chance that you may be misusing them. To help keep them afloat, it may be wise to look into a drain guard; here's why:

Helps Lessen the Chance of Blockages

There's nothing more infuriating than using the sink or the shower, only to find the water still pooling around at the base. Sometimes, this could be due to soap and hair build-up that may be narrowing the passage for water to exit your home freely — cue a drain guard.

This inexpensive device (which can be purchased at various shops — such as a home improvement store) will help strain the water before it plummets down the drain. That way, anything that shouldn't be in there (i.e., hair — as mentioned earlier) will be caught in the guard and will sit around until it is disposed of in a nearby garbage can.

Lowers the Possibility of an Accident

Are you afraid that you might have an item of sentimental value down the drain (i.e., such as your wedding ring)? If so, a drain guard can help! Just like it will prevent hair and food particles from exiting down a drain, it can also help lessen the chance of an "oh, no" moment from striking in your home.

Don’t Use Chemical Drain Cleaners

One of the quickest ways to clear a drain in your home also happens to be one of the worst. As it turns out, chemical drain cleaning solutions are hazardous to your health, as well as the well-being of your home's plumbing system. If you're still looking to choose this dangerous option over a safe, efficient drain cleaning from a plumber, here's what to consider:

Damages Plumbing Pipes

When you're using a chemical drain cleaner at home, there's a chance you're using one that is considered caustic. When that's the case, this particular cleaner has enzymes in its composition that will heat up and turn anything in its path into a goo-like substance. However, this is only a temporary fix — and if your home has PVC plumbing pipes or metal pipes that are close to retirement age, this particular drain cleaner can corrode the pipes over time.

Harmful to Your Well-Being

In addition to being problematic for your plumbing pipes, a chemical drain cleaner is also a hazard to you and your family’s health. Since these cleaning agents are made from a series of potent chemicals, they can burn your skin, eat through clothing, and be fatal if ingested.

Furthermore, if you mix a chemical drain cleaner with another (or a household cleaning agent), there's even the chance that the mixture of ingredients could transform into a noxious gas. So, when in doubt, give your plumber a call to help out and clean your drains in a safe, chemical-free way.

Unclogging a Clogged Toilet Like a Pro

One thing in particular that seems to be unavoidable is a clogged toilet. However, thankfully, it's relatively easy to unclog it — depending on the blockage's severity. Before panicking, take a deep breath and follow these simple steps to help your toilet regain function:

Step 1: Pick the Correct Plunger

To unclog your toilet efficiently, you'll need to have the correct tool on hand. While toilet plungers are often visualized as having a flat, pink base — those are meant to handle sink-related clogs. In actuality, you'll want an extension flange plunger (the shape is similar to a bell) to get the job done!

Step 2: Create a Powerful Suction

Once you have the correct plunger in your possession, it's time to get to work. First, gently place the extension flange plunger into your toilet bowl opening and carefully submerge the head to place over the trap (opening at the bottom).

Once aligned, gingerly push the plunger down and create a powerful suction between the tool and the trap. After that, it's time to start plunging.

Step 3: Plunge Away the Blockage

After you have created the perfect suction between your extension flange plunger and the trap at the bottom of the toilet, begin to plunge (up and down). Do this for about three minutes until you see any lingering water in the bowl leave through the trap.

Suppose the water has exited the toilet; attempt to flush it. If the "throne" regains proper function, you've successfully cleared the clog. However, if you've been plunging for quite some time and H2O still lingers, don't flush — instead, call a professional plumber right away to help resolve the problem (since there might be deeper issues causing the clog down the line).

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For superior plumbing in Los Angeles, at competitive prices, contract Red Lilly Plumbing at (323) 319-4102 or use our online form to schedule your service!