You've flushed what?! What your plumber wishes you'd st

Chances are we've all done it at one point or another - caused a flood, blocked a drain or done something else we shouldn't have that's resulted in a spot of emergency DIY or a call out to the local plumber.

The annoying thing about these incidents is that often there's no reason why they needed to happen in the first place. That obstructed U-bend? Your fault. The over-complicated piping that's a complete eyesore in your otherwise perfect bathroom? Your fault. 

While this may come across as being a little over-exaggerated to make a point, you get the picture - there are plenty of things many of us can do to alter our behaviour and reduce the amount of needless damage we do to our showers, toilets, baths and sinks.

Here are a few of them:

Stop using your toilet as a waste disposal unit

Your toilet should not double-up as a rubbish bin. While flushing toilet paper is the obvious exception, you really should refrain from using the loo as a way of getting rid of the trash.

This even applies to products like make-up remover pads and personal cleaning wipes that describe themselves as flushable. Ultimately, it is likely they will lead to a drain pipe blockage as they simply don't disintegrate quickly enough.

The easiest solution here is to find space for a bin in your bathroom that you can use instead. If there really isn't enough area on the floor for this, then the next-best thing is to have one to hand just outside or in the next room instead. 

While it can be inconvenient to have to keep hold of your rubbish for a few seconds more, it's a lot less of a headache than having to unblock the drain and deal with the aftermath of all the unpleasantries that come with it.

Avoid over-the-top chemical cleaners

You may have heard that prevention is better than the cure and this is certainly the case when it comes to blocked drains. However, there is a caveat here that it depends on what you are doing to stop the blockage from happening in the first place.

If you rely on regularly using strong chemicals to keep your pipes clear, then it's probably time to reassess your strategy. This is because the often-corrosive nature of the materials you are using can gradually wear down the drains and other equipment you are trying to protect.

Instead, the best option is to try to keep plugholes clear of grease and hair by regularly checking them yourself and removing any debris by hand. Although it might take slightly longer and require a bit more elbow grease than you might like, your drains will thank you in the long term.

The same theory also applies to your toilet. One of the worst things you can use to clean your loo is the freshener tablets that you drop into your tank. The chemicals that are released as the product dissolves can wear down the parts that make the toilet flush, while the valves inside are also at risk of becoming blocked when the tablet breaks up into smaller pieces.

Know your DIY limits

If you're not sure what you're doing when it comes to replacing a burst pipe or re-routing your water supply, for example, then you're probably best leaving it to the professionals.

While we're definitely advocates of DIY and know the great feeling of accomplishment it can bring when you finish a job, there are some areas that just aren't worth taking risks with and, on occasion, your plumbing can fall into this category.

Firstly, handing over the reins on bathroom work can sometimes end up being cheaper than if you were to have a crack at it yourself, especially if there's a chance that if you do it wrong it's likely to result in further damage being caused. 

On this note, it can also save you time - something that could be of the essence if your household toilet or shower isn't working and you're not entirely convinced you know what to do to rectify that.

Look after your grouting

If you notice holes forming in your grouting - especially near your shower or bath area - then this isn't a job that should be left for another day. 

Gaps in your tiling can be incredibly risky in spaces where they are likely to be exposed to water, as if it gets in behind the tiles and into your walls where it is more difficult to dry out, this can lead to incidents of damp. 

This can eventually lead to structural damage and before long, what could once have been solved by a quick 15-minute job of scraping out and reapplying grout could instead run into costing thousands of pounds and take weeks to repair.

You should always look to use grout sealant as the last step of any tiling job to help protect against such instances happening - again, it's much better than the alternative!

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