There are many “quick fixes” and solutions to plumbing problems that have been passed down over time, but making decisions based on these plumbing myths can actually end up doing more harm than good in the long run.
To help you get the facts straight, here are 8 of the most common misconceptions we hear about using plumbing and working with plumbers.
1. Never Shower In A Thunderstorm
There has always been a superstitious element to showering in a thunderstorm, and – probably because of that – this myth remains widely believed to this day.
The basic myth comes from the fact that water conducts electricity. A thunderstorm is nature’s way of releasing mass amounts of static electricity all at once, the result is the strong electrical currents that we can actually see – lightning.
Lightning bolts can technically strike anywhere, but it’s highly unlikely that your shower will have anything to do with where it hits. It’s far more likely that a local pond or tall metal object like a light post will be the target.
2. Water Must Be Totally Shut Off For Plumbing Work
We’ve heard countless people say that they delayed scheduling plumbing repairs because they thought they’d be without water in their home for days or weeks at a time.
Sometimes, the water supply does need to be turned off at the source. Sometimes, if a repair is extensive enough, your home can be without water for several days.
But in *most* cases, those things don’t apply. Instead, water is selectively shut off for certain areas and appliances so that you can continue to access running water and use plumbing fixtures in other parts of your home.
3. Running Water Helps The Garburator
Introducing water into your garburator, also known as a garbage disposal, doesn’t really affect how well it runs.
Many people think that running the tap will help the garburator process large amounts of food scraps by stopping them from sticking together. In reality, it has no effect.
Instead, this myth can be harmful because it can lead to overfilled garburators when people think that the water provides their garburator with more capacity than it actually has. The result? Clogs — so don’t overfill your garburator to start with, running water or not!
4. All Plumbers Offer The Same Insurance Protection
Generally speaking, if you’re working with a professional plumbing company rather than a handyman-for-hire, you won’t have to worry about the workers being licensed and registered. Here in BC, for example, those are standard requirements for all plumbers.
What many people don’t realize, however, is that – just like you can choose the amount of coverage you pay for on home insurance – plumbers can choose how much coverage they’re able to offer as well.
That doesn’t matter too much if you’re just getting a quick drain inspection, but it’s tremendously important if you’re hiring a plumber to work on a high-value property or in areas with expensive, sensitive equipment. If there are damages or liabilities that exceed what the plumber is insured for, you may have to go to court to recoup the losses or simply pay them out of pocket.
5. A Plunger Can Fix Any Clog
It’s hard to fault people for this one. Most people never encounter clog-clearing devices other than plungers, so they just assume it’s the go-to, all-powerful solution for every blockage.
In reality, a plunger can certainly fix small clogs in your sink, or toilet. But it is certainly *not* the solution to every clog in the books. There are augers, water-based jet cleaners, and even eco-friendly chemical cleaners, each of which has its own place in a plumber’s drain cleaning arsenal.
If you run into a persistent clog, or if you find that your shower or sink drains more slowly than usual, it’s usually a sign of a more serious plumbing issue. Going down the brute force route with a plunger could end up damaging your toilet – in that case, you’d probably end up paying much more to repair or replace it than you would just calling a plumber who has the right tools for the job.
6. Plumbing Work Is Only Paid For When Complete
Always ask when the plumber expects to be paid, and how much of the total cost he wants upfront. That sets clear expectations for all parties involved.
On large or even moderately-sized projects – maybe something like radiant floor heating installation – it’s normal for a percentage down payment to be requested; usually somewhere between 10% to 25%. With that being said, if a potential plumber asks for 100 percent of the cost before the job starts, walk away.
Beyond that, there are different options for payment. Some plumbers will use a system of “milestones”: Once a certain piece of work is completed, you will be required to pay a certain percentage.
Others will use time: After a specified number of weeks, you will pay a certain portion of the total cost.
Between the two, milestones are often better since payment is only given out upon the completion of certain tasks. Time payments can work, but if the plumber works slowly, you may be paying too much for too little.
7. It’s Okay To Flush A Goldfish Down The Toilet
If your goldfish had died, flushing it down the toilet isn’t the most graceful way to go, but it won’t be a huge problem for your plumbing.
The problem arises when you try to flush your live goldfish down the toilet. Goldfish often survive this process and end up in your city’s drainage system. When Goldie enters the city sewage system, he can actually find his way into your local freshwater sources.
In most regions, goldfish are not a native species. This means that they can actually become an invasive problem for your local ecosystem. Goldfish can grow to be much larger than the tiny versions you see in pet stores. They can actually end up threatening the local population of fish in your city’s ponds.
Don’t believe that your tiny goldfish can wreak havoc on the local environment? Find out more about invasive goldfish here.
8. Leaking Faucets Aren’t A Big Deal
It’s true, a leaking faucet isn’t the end of the world. But it’s still a waste of water that can build up over time.
A simple drop of water dripping every few seconds could easily fill a bathtub in a week. Not only does that build up to be a tremendous waste of otherwise perfectly drinkable water, it can also cost you as much as $20 per month depending on how you’re billed for water.
That might not seem like a lot, but if you’re letting a faucet, or even several, drip for years at a time, that’s money – quite literally – going down the drain.
Have questions about a plumbing project?
Here at Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating, we’ve been in the plumbing industry for over 50 years. That’s a lot of experience and – better yet – it’s available to you with just a call or a click.
Get in touch with us, tell us about your plumbing situation, and we’ll be able to tell you how much it’ll cost and how long it’ll take to fix. It’s quick, simple, and easy, all with no pressure or obligation to commit to a project.
Just message us online or call us at (604) 879-1415 to get your free quote!