As a parent, one thing you may not think about teaching your kids is how to use your plumbing properly to prevent clogs and other issues. Plumbing repairs can be expensive, and one of the easiest ways to avoid them is to let your kids know about these important plumbing safety tips.

Always Test the Water Temperature

Once your little ones are old enough to start washing their hands or bathing on their own, you’ll want to stress the importance of always testing the water temperature whenever using a sink, bathtub or shower to prevent possible scalding. If you have younger kids at home, it is also a good idea to keep the temperature on your water heater set no higher than 120 degrees, as this will greatly reduce the risk of scalding. That being said, testing the water temperature is still important, as water heaters can sometimes have issues where they suddenly heat the water much hotter than what the unit is set to.

Never Flush Anything Other Than Toilet Paper Down the Toilet

Children are notorious for flushing all sorts of things down the toilet, and we have seen numerous situations where a home’s plumbing was clogged because a kid flushed a toy, jewelry, or various other objects down the toilet. Since you can’t expect your young ones to automatically understand the potential harm that can occur from flushing the wrong items down the toilet, it is important to teach your toddlers proper toilet rules.

Even if you have older kids, you’ll want to make sure that they know to flush only human waste and toilet paper. Unfortunately, this is something that many adults also struggle with.

Flushing any solid materials other than waste and toilet paper greatly increases the risk of the toilet or even your main sewer line becoming clogged. Many people mistakenly believe that all paper products, including tissues and paper towels, can also be flushed, which definitely isn’t the case. Toilet paper almost instantly starts to break down when exposed to water, and the flushing action helps it to break down even further to help prevent clogging. Paper towels and tissues are much stronger and will typically swell much larger when exposed to water instead of breaking down into small pieces like toilet paper does.

You also need to teach your kids to never flush wipes, cotton pads or swabs, feminine hygiene products, food, cat litter, or any other solid materials. By doing so, you can greatly reduce the risk of clogs and other potentially more serious plumbing issues such as a ruptured sewer line.

Use the Sink Strainer When Rinsing or Washing Dishes

Another easy way to prevent clogs and protect your home’s plumbing is to teach your children to always use the sink strainer when rinsing or washing dishes. Sink strainers work to capture food particles so that they don’t go down the drain and potentially clog your plumbing. Any food particles that go down the drain can increase the chances of a clog, but the worst are grains like pasta, rice, and cereal, as these can absorb lots of water and swell to the point where they can easily clog the drain line. The best way to prevent clogs in the kitchen sink or further down the drain line is for your kids to get in the habit of fully scraping plates in the trash and never rinsing or washing dishes without the sink strainer in place.

If you have toddlers in the home, it is also a good idea to install drain covers in all your sinks. Drain covers work the same as a kitchen sink strainer and will help to prevent your child from stuffing cotton balls, paper, crayons, toys, or anything else down the drain. This is important since removing things like toys or crayons from a plumbing system is usually much more complicated than clearing other clogs. In some cases, the only option for removing a toy or other larger, hard objects is to cut out part of the pipe and replace it, and this may require more extensive construction work depending on where the clog is.

Never Pour Fat, Oil, or Grease Down the Drain

This one is even more important as fat, oil, and grease are some of the biggest contributors to clogged drains and sewer lines. Many people think it is fine to put fat or grease down the sink as long as you flush it down with hot water. The truth is that even with lots of hot water, any type of fat can still solidify and harden as it moves through your plumbing system. When the fat begins to solidify, it becomes much stickier and can easily adhere to the insides of your pipes.

This fat layer can collect inside the pipes to the point that it greatly restricts water flow and begins to block the pipe. Food residue, paper products, and any other solid materials can also get stuck in the fat blob and lead to an even more serious clog. If you constantly wash lots of fat, oil, and grease down the drain, it probably won’t be all that long before your home’s main sewer line starts to clog and need to be cleaned.

A clogged sewer line may also cause sewage and wastewater to start backing up and flowing out of your showers and floor drains. All that sewage backing up may contain dangerous pathogens, and it also can cause serious water damage. If the sewer line is seriously clogged, it could also break and force you to pay for expensive sewer line repairs or even need to have the entire sewer line dug up and replaced.

Never Charge and Use Your Phone While Taking a Bath

You probably know how important it is to teach even the youngest kids about the dangers of using electronics in the bathtub or submerging any electrical device in water. One thing you may not be aware of, though, is that there is a small risk of electrocution from using a phone in the bath while it is plugged in. There have been numerous cases around the world where people have been electrocuted because they dropped their plugged-in phones in the bath.

The chances of this happening in the United States are fairly low, as your electrical system has numerous safety measures that should instantly shut off the electricity. Phone chargers should also have built-in safety measures, but this isn’t always the case if you’re using something other than an original manufacturer’s charger. Even if electrocution from using a charging phone in the bath is unlikely, it simply isn’t worth the risk and is something you should warn your kids about.

At Plumbtree Plumbing & Rooter, we can help if you’re experiencing issues with a clog or any other plumbing problem. We specialize in drain cleaning, sewer rooting, hydro jetting, and all other types of plumbing, sewer line, water line, and gas line services. For more information, or if you need to schedule any plumbing service in the San Jose and Silicon Valley areas, contact us today.

Josh Gibson

Hi, I’m Josh. I’ve been around plumbing my whole life. When I was 5-6 years old my family built a home where I did a lot of the sanding of copper pipe and definitely some playing in the mud. Plumbing is a major part of my family as I am a fourth-generation plumber. The skills I bring to the job are a good technical knowledge of plumbing and code requirements. I am often complimented on my hands-on problem-solving skills.
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