While many homeowners make simple mistakes with plumbing maintenance, one of the “wild cards” of plumbing problems is children. Your toddler might flush something down the toilet, causing a terrible backup, or your young daughters might clog the shower drain with long hair and too much soap.
You can’t prevent every plumbing issue that kids might cause, but there are some steps you can take to reduce the impact that kids might have on your plumbing. And, if kids do cause problems, some simple solutions that might save you from a more costly repair later.
1. Put the Toilet on Lockdown
Toilets are fascinating for little kids. You pull the lever, and the water flushes down. A toilet is like a little play pool. Toddlers don’t know the water is not sanitary, so they may even drink it if they can. Toilets are also a drowning hazard. You want to prevent toilet mishaps and illness, and the simplest way is to install a toilet lock that prevents children from lifting the lid.
If you’re worried about your child constantly flushing the toilet and wasting water, you might also consider installing a flush-lever lock. A flush lock is also a second line of defense in case someone forgets to lock the toilet lid. Even if you child gets into the water (yuck), he or she will still not be able to flush anything down, so you will have an easier time fishing out unwanted items.
2. Get Your Plumbing Serviced Each Season
Plumbing problems, especially broken pipes or backed-up sewers, are hazardous for everybody, but plumbing issues are especially dangerous for kids who don’t yet know the dangers of touching gray or black water that has leaked in the house. If your kids find a leak before you do, you may have a serious health hazard on your hands.
Be sure to have a cursory plumbing inspection each season, as seasonal changes are when plumbing problems are most likely to manifest themselves. If you do notice a cracked pipe or small leak, get it fixed quickly. Not only does regular maintenance and repair prevent the escalation of problems, it also stops problems like mold that develop from excess moisture and can cause health problems.
3. Install Drain Covers
As you might have already noticed, small openings entice a child’s natural curiosity. Children enjoy putting objects in holes or learning where things fit. Normally, curiosity is a great developmental learning tool. But when your drains are involved, there’s another story entirely. Protect your drains from becoming toddler play attractions by installing covers.
Drain covers are particularly important for “main” drains in your basement or laundry room and in your yard, especially if you have a septic system. These drains function as backups in case of flooding, and if they are clogged with crackers, toys, or household items, any flood from a burst pipe, a rainstorm, or an appliance malfunction will be much worse.
Bathroom drains can also be victims of toddler curiosity. Install a sink with a built-in push-plug drain. If getting this type of plug isn’t an option, purchase a simple plug for the drain and try to keep your child out of the bathroom by placing a plastic cover over the door handle.
4. Don’t Make Parenting Plumbing Mistakes
Unfortunately, not all the plumbing problems that stem from children are the fault of the child. Sometimes parents can neglect their plumbing, especially when it comes to flushing things down the toilet. You might not use the toilet for toys and toothbrushes like a toddler might, but some parents still flush things like napkins and baby wipes.
However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Never flush anything other than toilet paper, water, and human waste down the toilet. To remind yourself, place a locked trash bin next to the toilet to collect all items that can’t be flushed. Don’t trust the labels of wipes that claim to be “flushable.” Such wipes usually are still more dangerous than regular toilet paper, and the safest place for them is in the trash can, not the plumbing.
Even though baby wipes might not clog your own plumbing, they can cause larger sewer line clogs down the road, costing your community thous ands of dollars in repairs. If you have a septic system instead of public works, then the problem can manifest in your own house with backed-up lines and poor septic performance.
5. Teach Respect for Plumbing
Parents of the most adventurous children find out that even the best barriers sometimes fail. Even with all your safeguards in place, you will still need to teach your young children respect for the plumbing. This is done by modeling the correct way to use plumbing.
Show your children how to clean hair out the drain after a bath. Model throwing tissues and wipes into the trash can instead of the toilet. If a child does throw something into the toilet or down the drain, react immediately by fishing the item out and explaining why it is dangerous.
For more information on getting your plumbing ready for kids, contact us at Rapid Rooter Plumbing.