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Keep Your Pipes Clean Without the Help of a Plumber

Uneeda Plumbing's Lynn Shilling says no to products from Home Depot and turns off the water when he goes out of town.

Lynn Schilling’s parents started Uneeda Plumbing back in 1972. Photo by Chris Leaman.

Want to avoid calling a plumber at all? Here are tips for keeping the repairperson at bay.

• “My biggest tip: If you’re going out of town, turn off the water,” says Lynn Schilling, owner of Uneeda Plumbing. Not just in winter—all year long. “Say your icemaker line starts to leak—that happens a lot. That could dump hundreds of gallons of water on your kitchen floor. Or your water heater breaks—that will keep refilling, with nothing to shut it off.”

• Schilling also recommends periodically tightening any bolt that could come loose. “I’ll go into a house and people tell me their toilet seemed loose for a year. It is very important to tighten toilet bolts, especially ones on the floor. When these bolts come loose, the toilet rocks, which causes water to leak onto the floor. This water then causes wood to rot or mold. Both of these will require major repairs. Thousands of dollars could be saved with five minutes of work.”

• Once a week, Schilling fills each sink in his house to the top with water, then lets it drain. “The weight of the water draining through helps keep pipes flowing well. If I’m shaving or brushing my teeth, I’ll fill up the sink and let it drain. I’ve never had to snake any of my drains.”

• Schilling also recommends not buying plumbing fixtures from Home Depot or Lowe’s. “In my opinion, those places sell inferior products,” he says. He recommends Ferguson, Thos. Somerville, and Faucet.com. “Usually the cost of a job is labor,” Schilling says. “Buy the best product you can so you don’t have to worry about it again.”

This feature first appeared in the March 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.

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