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Person plunging a toilet

Assembling a Home Maintenance Armory: Plumbing Maintenance

Without regular maintenance, your home would fall into disrepair. While some tasks should be left to a professional, there are many aspects of home maintenance that don’t require anything more than basic knowledge and a few moments of your time. Your home’s plumbing is a system of pipes, drains, fixtures, and appliances that distribute water for use and transport waste away to your sewer or septic tank. This system is easily maintainable on your own to prevent smaller problems from becoming larger ones.

PlungersMr. Rooter technician describing an issue to the customer.

One of the most basic implements in any good home plumbing toolkit is a plunger. Plungers are the first line of defense against clogged drains, using suction to dislodge clogs and restore normal water throughput. However, there are many types of plungers, each designed for a different application. As a homeowner, you should have two plungers in your house: a sink plunger and a toilet plunger. A sink plunger is often the first image that comes to mind when you think of the word “plunger”: a rubber cup-shaped tool attached to a long handle. These plungers are best for addressing clogs in sinks, showers, and tubs, where there is a relatively flat surface and the cup can easily create a seal for suction. Toilet plungers have an additional small, soft rubber flap inside the rubber cup that fits into the drain of a toilet bowl. This extra flap is necessary to create a tight seal for the best results when plunging a toilet.


Aerated cleaning should occur in your home periodically. Aeration is particularly helpful to your sinks and toilets that need some extra cleaning. Channellock pliers can be used to loosen or tighten any hose that you may need to get into the spaces for aeration. For larger plumbing problems, call a professional plumber to take a look at your sinks and toilets.

Drain Cleaners

If you’ve been following my blog, you may wonder why I’ve listed drain cleaners as an important part of your plumbing maintenance arsenal. Caustic drain cleaners should never be poured down your drains—these harsh chemicals can cause damage and leaks inside your plumbing as well as mar fixtures and burn your skin. However, eco-friendly drain cleaners, such as enzymatic or organic drain cleaning solutions, are safe for use in your home. These solutions are ideal for maintaining clear pipes when used on a regular basis to break up the beginnings of small clogs. Check with your local plumber or home improvement store to find out where you can purchase an enzymatic drain cleaner, or create your own drain cleaning solution from vinegar, baking soda, and hot water. You can even get your very own BioChoiceES Drain Cleaner from Mr. Rooter.

homeowner fixing sink p trapClogs are one of the most common plumbing problems encountered by homeowners, and the easiest issues to prevent or address on your own as well. Having the tools on hand to keep the pipes and drains in your Portland home clear will save you money and prevent stress by helping you to keep your plumbing in good shape. A few last useful items I’d like to mention include a well-stocked toolbox with a wrench and pliers, safety goggles, and rubber gloves. Talk to your plumber if you’re still curious about the tools you should have on hand to maintain your plumbing and how to use them.

Were you familiar with these plumbing tools and how to use them?

  • I have a plunger, but I didn’t realize there was more than one option
  • I’ve never heard of Channellocks before
  • It’s time to throw out my caustic drain cleaners and check out some friendlier solutions!