Everyone who lives in your home should know where the main WATER SHUTOFF VALVE is located.

Make sure each person understands how to find and identify the TOOL that is needed to turn the water valve off.

Here are some additional plumbing tips which you will find helpful:

Click on one of the links above to learn more!


It is best to use cold water — NOT hot water — when you run your disposal. Let the cold water run as long as the motor is running, and be sure to avoid overloading the disposal.

Corn husks, artichokes, onion skins, celery, and other high-fiber material can clog your disposal.

Do not pour fats or cooking oils into your sink. Liquid fats can solidify in cold drainpipes, trap food particles, and clog the drains.

Do not put coffee grounds down the drain.

If your disposal is clogged, turn off the motor and the water.

Reach under the sink and insert the service wrench that came with your disposal — or a ¼ inch Allen wrench — into the hole on the bottom of the disposal. Turn it back and forth until it can turn freely in complete circles.

Then use tongs to remove whatever caused the disposal to jam.

Finally, press the red “reset” button on the bottom of your disposal in case the disposal needs to be reset.

Food particles which remain in your disposal can cause odors. Put a combination of ice cubes and lemon peel in the disposal, run it for about thirty seconds, and then run cold water through the disposal. Disposal cleaner or degreaser may help too.


Place a strainer over kitchen and bathroom drains if they do not already have one; this will prevent hair, pieces of soap, and other debris from clogging drains. Clean the strainer as needed.

Unclog a drain mechanically rather than chemically when possible.

Use chemical drain cleaners sparingly, especially if your pipes or traps are brass, steel, or cast-iron; some chemicals may corrode metal pipes. Try this instead: pour a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar down your drain every month.

The drains in showers and in bathroom sinks typically need extra care; pour two or three gallons of boiling water down each bathroom drain about once a month to clear out hair and greasy particles.

Every week or two remove sink and tub pop-up stoppers and rinse them off.

Every three or four months remove the overflow plate on the tub.

Then pull up the pop-up assembly to reach the spring or rocker arm.

Remove accumulated hair and rinse thoroughly.

If your shower drain is plugged up:

Try a plunger first.

If the plunger doesn't unplug the drain, insert a plumber's helper ("snake") down the drain.

Prevent drain clogs by putting a lint trap on your washing machine discharge hose.


Repair or replace a leaky faucet promptly.

Be sure to check under sinks for moisture or leaks. Even a slow leak can waste as much as 15 or 20 gallons of water a day. But a leak not only wastes water; it can eventually ruin your faucet or even your cabinets and floors.

Leaky faucets are ordinarily caused by seals which are dirty or worn. You may either clean or replace the worn parts, or you may want to install a new faucet.


Don’t let your outdoor faucets freeze up in the winter.

Unattach your garden hoses before freezing temperatures arrive in the fall.

Then close the shut-off valve on the pipe(s) which lead to your outdoor faucet(s).

Then open the outdoor faucets so that any residual water can drain.

If your indoor faucets sometimes freeze in very cold weather:

Try leaving the cabinet doors under the faucets open so that they can get a bit more heat.

In extreme cases let the water trickle very slowly into the sink.

Insulate water pipes which may be exposed to freezing temperatures or wind. Water pipes which are not being used should be drained for the winter in areas where there may be severely cold weather.

If there is plumbing in your garage, be sure to keep your garage door closed when it is very cold. Pipes in unheated garages or basements should be insulated.

If your pipes do freeze:

Turn off the water at the main shut-off valve so that you don't have problems as the ice melts.

Leave the faucets on to relieve pressure as the ice melts.

Use a blow dryer or heat gun to thaw frozen pipes.

Don’t even think about using a blow torch! It's too dangerous.


Your water heater consumes energy! If your water heater is larger than you need, you may be spending more money on gas than necessary. But of course if your water heater is too small, you may run out of hot water during peak use periods.

The following chart will help you to determine the size of the water heater you need in your home. Simply estimate how many gallons of hot water you will need during the course of the hour when there is maximum demand for hot water in your home:

Shower10 - 15 Gallons Bath15 - 25 Gallons Shaving2 Gallons Washing Hair4 Gallons Washing Hands and Face2 Gallons Preparing a Meal5 Gallons Washing Dishes
in Automatic Dishwasher

12 - 15 Gallons
Washing Dishes by Hand4 Gallons Washing Clothes
(Warm Wash / Cold Rinse)

10 - 12 Gallons

If your water heater displays a ASHRAE / EIS rating of 90, it is energy-efficient and you do not need additional insulation.

To keep your water heater running efficiently, drain the sediment that accumulates in the bottom of the water heater at least twice each year.

Open the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater and drain it into a bucket until the water runs clear (maybe four or five gallons).


Water Saving Tips

Avoid using the toilet for a wastebasket. Every flush you can eliminate can save between two and seven gallons of water.

Leaks waste water. Add several drops of food coloring to the toilet tank. If it's leaking, the coloring will appear in the toilet without flushing.

If you don't have a low flow toilet, use plastic bottles filled with water and pebbles to displace water in the tank. Don't obstruct float and don't use bricks.

Don't let the water run while you brush your teeth or shave. Turn the faucet on briefly to rinse. An electric razor saves the most.

Keep showers under 5 minutes. Turn off the water to soap up.

Filling the tub uses about 50 gallons of water. Try bathing in just 10 gallons. Plug the tub when you shower; how full does the tub get?

Match washer's load selector to your load size. Try to wash only full loads. Minimize detergent use. Save energy by using cold water to wash.

Buying a new washing machine? Choose wisely. Find the ones that conserves water and energy and has a suds saver attachment.

Speed cleaning food by using a vegetable brush. Spray water in short bursts. Faucet aerators cut consumption.

Use a rubber spatula to scrape dishes clean to limit pre-rinse. Let really dirty pans or dishes soak to speed washing.

Limit dishwasher use to full loads. Minimize detergent use. Prepare food with an eye to reducing dishwashing.

Choose a car wash that recycles water. At home, use a shut-off nozzle and wash your car in small sections. Direct runoff to water landscaping.

Replacing an old shower head can save up to 7.5 gallons of water per minute without sacrificing full spray action at low or high water pressures.


Don’t leave hot water in kitchen or shower hoses. The hoses will last longer if you run cold water through them after using hot water.

Prevent drain clogs by putting a lint trap on your washing machine discharge hose.

Put new washers in all your hoses twice a year.


If your toilet is stopped up and if the water level is low, there is an alternative if a plunger doesn't work.

Fill a bucket or plastic wastebasket with warm water and pour it into the bowl from waist level or higher.

Repeat if necessary after the water level is once again low.

Periodically check your toilets for leaks:

Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank — not the bowl. A couple of tablespoons of instant coffee or Kool-Aid will work too.

Check the toilet after about thirty minutes. If the water in the bowl has some of the color in it, the tank is leaking and the stopper ("flapper") and/or flush valve seat may need to be replaced.

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Allstate Plumbing
1914-A West Howard Lane
Austin, Texas 78728


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