Friday, June 5, 2009

Frugal Tip Friday

For today's Frugal Tip Friday I want to share with you a few cheap ways to prevent plumbing problems.


When I lived in apartments my shower drains would get clogged quite frequently. One time I was home when the repair man came (most of the time I was at work and would just get a service report stating that they had fixed the clogged drain and that it was due to hair) and after he unclogged the drain he called me in to see ALL my long hair that he had pulled from the drain. I was so grossed out. The repair man told me about hair traps but since I was #1 barely 20 and didn't really "get it" and #2 it didn't cost me anything to have it fixed, I didn't get one. That all changed when my husband and I bought our first home - now it was his time and our dime to fix these problems. I headed out to Bed, Bath & Beyond to pick up my trap (with a 20% off coupon of course) which I found for $2.99. The traps are simple to use and come in many varieties from mesh to plastic or ones that cover the drain to ones that go inside the drain. I got a white plastic one that covers the drain. I do have to replace it every 6 months or so but since then I have found them for cheaper at, Dollar Stores, Target's Dollar Center, Wal-Mart, hardware stores and even my favorite CVS. I always have a few extras on stand-by. The first time that you use it you are going to be amazed at how much hair you loose in the shower. Also while I was pregnant I didn't loose that much hair but after my boys were born I swear by the looks of the trap I was on my way to going bald but after a few months I was back to normal. Once your done with your shower, gather your hair in a few squares of TP and throw in the trash. I don't use TP anymore instead I use a cotton round that I apply freshener with, it's going in the trash anyway so why waste the TP! Make sure and clean out your trap DAILY otherwise some of the hair that it trapped will work it's way through the holes and the hair will block the water flow and your shower will not drain properly. Another way to cut down on the amount of hair you loose in the shower is to brush your hair really good before you step in. Here are a few pics of different varieties that are available at various retailers.


Drains get clogged with hair, soap scum, cooking oil, grease and other fats that literally gunk up the works. The first step to fixing a clogged drain is prevention. To prevent a clogged drain be smart about food disposal. If it can go in the trash - put it there. Yes we all love the convenience of a garbage disposal but everything that you put in the water supply has to be cleaned out, the less in then the less chemicals that have to be used to clean our water out. Don't EVER put cooking oil or grease down the drain - EVER! Use a wide mouth jar with a lid to dispose your cooking fats in. I use pickle & applesauce jars and when they get full I screw the lid on tight and dispose of. Check your local waste office for info on where to dispose of. In some areas you can sell or donate your used cooking fats to be recycled into alternative fuel.

Another step is this simple, natural and cheap solution to preventing clogged drains and sometimes will even unclog drains. I love it because it is green and therefore doesn't take a toll on the environment. Most household's are stocked with Baking Soda (Bicarbonate) and Vinegar so you won't even have to make a trip to the market to get the supplies. Simply pour vinegar liberally over and into the clogged drain. Immediately sprinkle baking soda onto the vinegar, trying to get it in through the drain holes. Continue to sprinkle the baking soda on until you begin to see foam bubble up. It will continue to froth and froth; stand back and let the solution do its job. When the foaming settles, rinse through with a small amount of boiling water. If the clog is very tough, you may leave the solution on overnight, flushing a bit of boiling water through in the morning to complete the process. It is also advisable to use this solution in all your toilets, sinks and tubs at the same time because the more of this solution that goes down the drains the less likely the drains are to get clogged.


If your toilet continuously runs you are using 78,000 gallons of water a year - that's enough to fill an average swimming pool. It is very easy to diagnose and fix this problem. First if you suspect a leak, test out your theory by pouring a bit of food coloring into the toilet’s tank and waiting overnight. If the dye shows up in the bowl the next morning, you have got a leak and it’s time to replace the flush valve/flapper. That is a very easy, quick and cheap fix. Get the model info from your valve/flapper & head to your local home improvement store. While there look for the plumbing expert and give him/her your info and they can direct you to the valve/flapper that will work best plus they might be able to give you a few tips on installation. I just read the instructions on the package and in under 5 minutes I was done. Problem solved, money saved!


Make sure you water your trees!! Times are tight but if you skimp on watering your trees the roots will come to the surface searching for water. When the roots start moving they can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your plumbing, foundation and landscaping.

If you have a dripping faucet or shower head but can't fix it that very minute put a clean dish or trashcan under it. Then empty the water in your yard, plants or pool - that way at least it's not wasted. You are paying for it so you might as well use it!

Check your washer hoses for cracks every month. If one were to burst while you were not home it can put several inches of water throughout your house in just a few hours.

This really isn't a plumbing issue but I just want to put it out there, don't run your dishwasher, washer or dryer and then go to bed or leave the house. If your washers start leaking or your dryer sets fire while you are asleep or gone so much damage or worse can happen before you wake up or come home. I know first hand because our timer broke on our washer in October. I did one load and all was fine, started another and went to my office to work on coupons (big surprise) when for whatever reason I turned to look behind me at the door and saw water raging under it. Since the timer was broke the water never shut off and continued to fill the washer and then our home. When it was all said and done almost $30,000 worth of damage had been done to our home. If I would have gone to bed like I sometimes do it would have been so much worse. Take my advice and don't do it, I almost lost my kids baby pictures and scrapbooks by trying to save time for the morning - it wasn't worth it.

There are a lot more than the ones that I have just listed but when typing this post I wanted to #1 not be overwhelming and #2 be something that the "tool challenged" single Mom could do. I hope that these tips have been helpful, if so let me know & PS I really do want to know. If you have any tips to share please leave a comment.

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