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Plumbing Tips & Tricks Blog

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Welcome to the Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Tips & Tricks Blog! See what’s new or pore through our archives to pick up tips for water conservation, learn about simple repairs you can do on your own, understand what to expect from plumbing professionals, and a whole lot more. You can also find out about the latest fixtures, designs and appliances for your kitchen and bath, so bookmark this page and come back if you’re ever considering upgrades or remodeling.


We’ll also bring you articles about the plumbing outside your home, like sprinkler and irrigation systems, swimming pools, fountains and outdoor drains. And if you need water treatment, such as water softening or on-site recycling of greywater, you can start here to learn about your options and how they function.


But perhaps the biggest benefit of reading the Tips & Tricks Blog is that you’ll gain a better understanding of -- and appreciation for -- the plumbing systems in your own home. With your newfound knowledge, you’ll be able to look after your pipes, drains and fixtures with the confidence that you’ll recognize potential problems at the earliest opportunity.


Check back often to keep up to date with the latest water-saving strategies and DIY techniques!

limescale

Removing and Preventing Limescale

  • 06/07/17

Do your plumbing fixtures seem like they need cleaning all too often? If the source of all that extra work is a white or green chalky coating on your faucets and showerheads, you may have a problem with limescale -- mineral-rich deposits that look unsightly and wreak havoc on your
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mainline

When Main Water Lines Go Bad

  • 05/31/17

Nothing lasts forever. On a long enough timeline, every plumbing pipe and fixture in your home will need to be replaced -- including your plumbing system’s primary artery, the main water line leading to your home.

Buried underground, this is the line that connects your household plumbing to the municipal water
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washerbubbles

Save the (Laundry) Day with Quick Washing Machine Fixes

  • 05/24/17

Few homeowners relish the thought of schlepping loads of dirty clothes to the laundromat, and even fewer want to go back to the days of scrubbing out stains at the river’s edge. So when problems arise with your washing machine, ignoring them is not an option. 

Washing machines are becoming more
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toilet2

What to do When Your Toilet is Overflowing

  • 04/05/17

If there’s one thing you should be able to count on, it’s that the toilet should flush properly when you need it to. But life isn’t fair, toilets clog, and to make matters worse -- they can overflow.

Preventing raw sewage from spilling over onto your bathroom floor can be failsafe,
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Is Your Lawn Ready to Go Green?

  • 03/15/17

It’s just a couple more days until it’s time to get decked out in all-green for St. Paddy’s Day, but your lawn’s big green day is also right around the corner. If you’re in one of the regions that has experienced an unusually mild winter, it could be today!

Cultivating a
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Floor drain

Preventative Drain Care Keeps Clogs at Bay

  • 03/01/17

You have a variety of options when it comes to clearing clogged drains -- there are chemical cleaners, organic solutions, plumbing snakes, plungers and more. But why go to the trouble when it’s cheaper and easier to just prevent clogs in the first place?

Taking care of a drain mostly just
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icyroof

Avoid Ice Buildup in Your Gutters

  • 02/22/17

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this month, and homeowners throughout North America are dutifully serving their six-week sentences as winter soldiers on. While the celebrated groundhog has no actual authority over the temperature, it’s true that many regions haven’t seen the last of below-freezing temperatures -- which means the risk
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plunger

5 Ways to Unclog a Toilet

  • 02/08/17

They happen to the best of us. Toilet clogs are just a fact of life. And while your trusted local plumbers will always be there for you, this is often a job you can take care of yourself. All it takes are a few household supplies and a little know-how.

Take
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pipecamera

Plumbing Cameras Offer a View From the Inside

  • 02/01/17

Not long ago, there was a lot of guesswork involved in household plumbing repairs. That's because it was impossible to definitively know what was going on inside a pipe without exposing and removing it, which had to be weighed against the cost and hassle of doing so. Rather than spend
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hardwater

How to Tell if You Have Hard Water

  • 12/14/16

Some lucky homeowners have never experienced hard water in their homes. It’s largely a regional problem, with the hardest-hit areas in the Upper Midwest. But for those who live in a hard water zone, it can be one of the
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disposal

A Thanksgiving Tradition You Want to Avoid

  • 11/16/16

The night before Thanksgiving, plumbers all across America make a point of getting a good night’s sleep. That’s because history has taught them that Thanksgiving day and the day after are typically the busiest days of their entire year, and they tend to spend most of their time on a
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Think Twice Before Using Liquid Drain Cleaners

  • 11/02/16

When you discover a drain that is slow or clogged, calling a plumber might not be your first reaction. After all, using a bottle of commercial liquid drain cleaner is cheaper and requires minimal effort, so why call for professional
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drainplug

Clearing a Drain Can Be a DIY Triumph

  • 09/14/16

Every home needs the attention of a professional plumber from time to time, because there are some jobs that are just too big, complex and potentially dangerous for amateurs to attempt. But one of the most common problems, a clogged
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Irrigation System Maintenance is a Year-Round Task

  • 08/24/16

Depending on the size of your lawn and garden, it can be a huge task to keep up with the watering with just a watering can and hose. That’s why many homeowners turn to irrigation systems, ranging from simple sprinklers
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sumppump

Keep Your Sump Pump Clean, It’ll Keep You Dry

  • 08/17/16

Multiple regions have experienced record rainfall this summer, and those storms likely left more than a few flooded basements in their wake. Unfortunately, this disaster occasionally strikes homeowners who thought they were protected by a functioning sump pump, only to
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drip

Hard Water is More Than Just an Annoyance

  • 07/13/16

Throughout North America, hard water is a regional phenomenon. If you’ve spent most of your life in an area without much in the way of mineral sediment, you may not know much about hard water problems at all. But if
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plunger

Seal the Deal With Proper Plunger Technique

  • 06/22/16

Indoor plumbing has become an indispensable creature comfort, and when it’s suddenly taken away due to a drain clog, it can feel like an instant emergency. Some clogs do require professional assistance to clear, but others are minor enough that
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disposal

Keep Your Garbage Disposal Fresh, Clean and Functioning

  • 06/15/16

Not every homeowner has a garbage disposal under the kitchen sink, but those who do usually love the convenience of being able to flush food scraps directly down the drain. One of the biggest benefits is that a disposal can keep rotten food odors out of the garbage can, but
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broke

Make Sure You Have Cash to Cover Plumbing Emergencies

  • 05/04/16

You never know when you will need an emergency plumbing repair. Even homeowners who pay attention to preventative maintenance can find themselves facing an unexpected problem in their pipes, and the issue usually needs to be addressed right away, particularly if it involves flooding. Unfortunately, many consumers don't have the
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drip

Putting Off Plumbing Repairs Costs More in the Long Run

  • 03/23/16

There are countless reasons to put off performing a plumbing repair. Perhaps you’re short on cash, or you don’t have time to do it yourself or accommodate a plumber. With so many demands on our time, it’s easy to forget about fixing a leaky faucet or
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disposal

Avoiding Garbage Disposal Clogs During Holiday Party Season

  • 12/15/15

The Thanksgiving leftovers may be long gone, but for many American families, the memories of garbage disposal failure are still fresh. The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the busiest days of the year for plumbers, who are often
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Frozen pipe bursting

Your Insurance May Not Cover Pipes Broken Due to Negligence

  • 12/08/15

Homeowners insurance can be a lifesaver. If you have a major disaster, like a fire or a flood, you could be out tens of thousands of dollars for repairs or renovations. Fortunately, in most circumstances, your insurance should be there to pick up most or all of the cost. However,
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pipecamera

Diagnose Sewer Line Problems with a Camera Inspection

  • 09/22/15

One of the absolute worst places to need plumbing repairs is in the sewer line. That's the main outtake pipe that removes all the used greywater and waste from your home and into the municipal sewage system. When that waste water starts backing up into your house, not only is
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confused2

Avoid Common Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Plumbing

  • 09/15/15

It's not so hard to pick up do-it-yourself plumbing skills with a bit of practice. If you are careful and dedicated, you can save yourself big money on repair bills by taking care of small problems on your own. But be forewarned – just owning a pair of channel-lock pliers
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badplumber

You Can Be Liable for Unlicensed Plumber Services

  • 07/30/15

Remodeling your bathroom can be a blast. You get to pick from the latest in modern bathroom installations and design your space to align perfectly with your tastes and needs. When planning your dream bathroom, however, or preparing for any other major plumbing renovation or installation, don't neglect
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flood

How to Plan for a Flood

  • 07/21/15

While parts of the Western United States are stuck in a prolonged drought, other parts of the country have seen extraordinary rainfall this summer. Some of the resulting flash flooding has done extensive damage to homes in affected areas. If you live in one of these areas with the potential
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confused

When Do You Need to Hire a Plumber?

  • 07/16/15

There's a fine balance when it comes to plumbing repairs. On the one hand, if you do it yourself, you can save a lot of money, learn something about your home systems and feel the satisfaction of a job well done. On the flip side, if you mess up a
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drainplug

How to Adjust the Sink Stopper in Your Drain Plumbing

  • 07/02/15

The bathroom sink stopper is a handy little gadget, allowing you to fill the basin with water to help with shaving or washing your face. However, like most household systems, the stopper isn't perfect and it can become maladjusted over time, causing the sink to drain instead of holding the
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toiletflush

Flushing Trash Can Ruin Your Bathroom Toilet Plumbing

  • 06/30/15

Indoor plumbing is one of the most crucial public heath advances of modern times. The toilet, in particular, offers a seemingly miraculous waste disposal system – just pull the lever, and whatever is in the bowl is whisked away and out of your life forever. Unfortunately, that's only
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hardwater

Water Softener Can Prevent Household Plumbing Damage

  • 06/25/15

Hard water in your household plumbing is no picnic. The mineral-laden liquid can gum up your appliances and shorten their lifespans, while degrading the functionality of your pipes as well. In certain circumstances, hard water can even contribute to a health hazard. Fortunately, you can confront the challenges that hard
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confused

Avoid These Common DIY Plumbing Mistakes

  • 05/21/15

There's nothing like a little do-it-yourself knowledge when it comes to your home's plumbing system. You can save money and feel good about completing a project using your own skills and ingenuity. Unfortunately, things don't always go as easily as planned – and when plumbing work goes wrong,
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sink-trap

How to Clean Out Your Sink Trap

  • 05/12/15

Are you struggling with a clogged sink? If you're lucky, you can resolve the problem by using a plunger or  using a plumbing snake to clear the drain, but a tougher clog might require you to remove the trap in the pipes. Fortunately, this is a relatively simple
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plumbing-pipes

What Do Those Funny Plumbing Noises Mean?

  • 05/08/15

When your plumbing system is working properly, you don't have to think about it. Water comes in, water and waste get removed – that's the end of the story. Unfortunately, things don't always go so smoothly. Sometimes, the plumbing can break down – noisily. Here's a primer on the possible
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floor-drain

Diagnose and Fix Problems in Your Floor Drain

  • 04/30/15

Floor drains can be a lifesaver. If you break a pipe, or your house floods from an outside source, a drain in the basement floor gives the water a way out without lingering and damaging the woodwork or provoking mold growth. They also relieve pressure on your pipes by allowing
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Hug a Plumber Day

Celebrate National Hug a Plumber Day

  • 04/24/15

Have you hugged your plumber lately? If not, now’s your chance. Saturday, April 25 is National Hug a Plumber Day, a time to take a moment to appreciate those brave men and women who unclog our drains and keep our toilets flowing. Even if you don't want to
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Baking soda, lemon juice and water

All-natural drain and bathroom cleaner recipes

  • 02/05/15

Have you ever read the ingredients in a commercial drain cleaner? It's a pretty caustic collection of chemicals - lye, acids or bleach, depending on the kind of cleaner you buy. There's no question that chemical drain cleaners get the job done, but has the potential to damage your pipes.

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Woman plunging sink drain

DIY tips for clearing a clogged drain

  • 01/29/15

It’s an ominous sign most of us know all too well: You’re standing in the shower and you notice that instead of draining, the water is rising around your feet. Or maybe the kitchen sink takes forever to drain after you do the dishes. Clogged drains are a plague for
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Money going down the drain

Avoid potential plumbing pitfalls when buying a new home

  • 01/08/15

You think you've found your dream house: A big yard, ample bathrooms, great price for the neighborhood. Before you sign on the dotted line, however, make sure you check out the plumbing. There could be problems lurking within the pipes and walls of your new home that could eventually cost
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Hot and cold faucets

Debunking common plumbing myths

  • 01/05/15

So, you've purchased your own home and want to educate yourself on prudent and effective home maintenance. You've learned the basics about your plumbing system and have even brandished an adjustable wrench a time or two. Kudos on taking responsible steps to safeguard your home investment. However, make sure you
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Clearing a clogged sink drain

Tips for avoiding a Black Friday plumbing emergency

  • 11/20/14

Gobble, gobble, stuff, stuff and uh-oh… stuck. It’s a common scene plumbers see every year on Black Friday. All the cooking, eating and clean up that comes with the Thanksgiving meal can create problems for your plumbing. Calls to our plumbers typically increase more than 50 percent on Black Friday
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Four ways to clear a clogged shower drain

The best ways to unclog a shower drain

  • 11/06/14

There are many reasons why you might need to call a plumber, but a clogged drain doesn’t necessarily have to be one of them. Shower drains can clog often, and you may be able to clear it yourself using some  simple tricks. Of course, you should always keep the number
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A dripping faucet may be a sign to call a plumber

5 Signs you need to call a plumber

  • 10/27/14
There are plumbing problems you can handle on your own, but others are too big to tackle. Do you know when you need to call in professional help? The five scenarios below may surprise you.
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A plunger may help clear a clogged toilet

3 Easy fixes for a clogged toilet

  • 10/20/14
Is your toilet clogged? If so, this is one plumbing repair you may be able to tackle yourself. While some more serious clogs require the intervention of a professional plumber, there are some things you can try before you pick up the phone.
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Tree roots can clog and damage pipes

Small roots, big problems: Preventing Pipe Damage

  • 10/20/14

Believe it or not, your landscaping could be a danger to your plumbing system. Tree roots will travel long distances to find water, especially when drought conditions persist. When trees and shrubs get thirsty, they follow the trail of moisture vapors
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