Hands placed on pipe under sink. Plumbing concept

9 Plumbing Tips And Tricks To Help You Be Handier Around The House

Call a plumber — unless you can fix the problem yourself. While plumbing issues can seem daunting, there are many simple ways to deal with them and, more importantly, to prevent them. New houses and old ones can crop up problems, so it’s important to become familiar with what can occur and how to respond. From unclogging drains to checking for leaks, here are several plumbing tips everyone should know.

9 Important Plumbing Tips for Beginners and Pros

Locate the main water shutoff valve

Shutoff valves in a water supply network. Gas boiler room equipment.
Image Credits: Shutterstock

First things first, find the main water shutoff valve in your home. In a plumbing emergency, the first step is often turning it off to prevent the situation from getting worse. So it’s important to know where the valve is before any issue arises, such as a pipe burst. Most homes have the valve in the utility closet, under the kitchen sink, or in the basement. If you can’t find the valve, ask a professional for help. You can also look for the outdoor water valve in the ground that you can turn off with a meter key. [1]

Locate independent supply valves

Home water supply, hand turn off safety shutoff valve.
Image Credits: Shutterstock

The main water valve isn’t the only one you should look out for. Most appliances like toilets, sinks, and water heaters usually come with their own water supply valve. So, if there’s an issue with an individual fixture, you can turn off that valve to prevent flooding. Test the valves once a year to ensure they turn off and on easily and properly. If they don’t turn on or cause leaks, call a plumber to fix them. [2]

Read: 10 home maintenance tasks that are vital and should be done regularly

Key plumbing tip — only flush toilet paper

Close-up Of A Person's Hand Using Toilet Paper
Image Credits: Shutterstock

Toilets are not as infallible as we’d like them to be. They are only suited to flush human waste and toilet paper. And that’s it. Do not flush other items like paper towels, diapers, tampons, sanitary napkins, and baby wipes. Even “flushable” wipes are not as flushable as advertised. Plumbing issues involving toilets are often the most unpleasant to deal with, so do yourself a favor and be kind to them. [3]

Avoid harsh chemical drain cleaners 

Woman with plunger trying to remove clogged sinks
Image Credits: Shutterstock

Clogged drains are a common issue, whether it’s the kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, or shower drains. But don’t turn to harsh chemicals and cleaners to clear the mess. These concoctions can be corrosive, damage the pipes, and worsen the issue. Fortunately, there are several better solutions. First, you can use a sink plunger like you would deal with a clogged toilet. 

Second, you can use the gentler vinegar and baking soda chemicals. Start by pouring hot water down the drain. Then sprinkle about a quarter cup to half a cup of baking soda on the drain, followed by half a cup of white vinegar. Wait about an hour, then pour an entire kettle of boiling water into the sink. The clog should be clear after that. 

And if not, try method three, which involves unscrewing the pipes beneath the sink and cleaning out the gunk manually. It might be a gross chore, but you’ll notice a major difference when it’s done. Maintain clean drains by using the baking soda and vinegar method on a regular basis. Also, if you have leftover water after boiling a kettle, pour the rest down the sink. This is a simple habit that can help prevent future clogs. 

Read: 5 Creatures That Can Crawl In Through Your Toilet and How to Stop Them

Don’t put food down the kitchen sink 

the leftovers of food left inside the kitchen sink are about to clog the drain. Food waste. Food leftovers that are compostable and reusable
Image Credits: Shutterstock

Now, on the topic of clogged drains, there are more helpful prevention methods, so let’s go through some individual ones. When it comes to keeping kitchen sinks clear, avoid rinsing food down the drain. Instead, scrape all leftover scraps into the trash can before piling them into the sink. Also, it’s worth investing in a mesh drain cover. It will catch more debris than the typical sink stopper and is often easier to clean out afterward.

Avoid pouring grease and oil into drains

A pipe clogged or sewer with thick fats, oil and grease
Image Credits: Shutterstock

While on the topic of plumbing tips and kitchen sinks, wipe away grease and excess oil before washing the dishes. Grease can build up in the pipes and cause blockages. Not only that but it can be extremely difficult to clean later on. Similarly, don’t dispose of leftover cooking oil in the sink. It may seem liquidy now, but it can easily congeal or harden when in contact with cold water or pipes. 

Prevent hair from clogging shower drains 

Pile of hair loss in a bathroom after wash hair.hair fall everyday serious problem, on white background.Solutions for hair loss.
Image Credits: Shutterstock

When it comes to clogs in the shower drains, the culprit is usually hair. Depending on how many people use the shower and the length and texture of their hair, blockages can occur fairly quickly. Invest in a fine mesh strainer to protect the pipes. But if you’re already dealing with a backup, here’s an easy hack to get the gunk out. Get a zip tie and use a sharp utility knife to cut little slits along the side, every inch or so. Now, stick it down the drain and move it around to collect the trapped hair. [4]

Read: What Did People Use Before Toilet Paper?

Check for toilet leaks 

Professional plumber working with toilet bowl in bathroom
Image Credits: Shutterstock

As we’ve already established, toilet issues are particularly unpleasant and expensive, so check for leaks regularly. A simple method involves pouring a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank. Then, wait an hour or so and check the bowl. If the food coloring appears in the water there, congratulations, you have a leak. This can usually be fixed by fixing the flush valve seal; if not, contact a plumber.

Tips and signs of plumbing issues 

dirty bathroom faucet
Image Credits: Shutterstock

Often, people are unaware they have a plumbing issue until they notice water damage on their walls, floors, or ceilings. These can be pricey to fix. Also expensive is a simple leaky faucet that wastes water and increases your bill with every droplet. Don’t delay dealing with these problems or calling a plumber when needed. More signs to look out for include:

  • Changing water meter readings when you’re not using water
  • Bubbling or dripping noises
  • High water bills
  • Loose toilets
  • Mold growth, especially under sinks
  • Musty smells
  • Standing water, especially around drains
  • Water stains
  • Wood rot [5]

Keep Reading: Plumber demonstrates why you should never use flushable wipes


  1. 10 Plumbing Tips and Tricks Every Homeowner Should Know.” The University of Texas at Austin. November 2, 2022
  2. “9 Tips From Plumbing Experts Every Homeowner Needs to Know.” Simply Green
  3. “10 Plumbing Tips Every Homeowner Needs to Know.Plumbing AIC Medic.
  4. “Seven DIY Plumbing Hacks You Need to Know.Family Handyman
  5. “8 Plumbing Tips for New Homeowners.” Service Experts