One of the worst types of home repair jobs is of the plumbing variety. Unlike problems with an AC unit, or even a leak in the roof, a plumbing emergency is time sensitive. Unless you’re able to drop what you’re doing when you stumble upon the damage, time will only allow it to become messier, larger, and harder to fix. Once the damage gets out of hand, it’ll cost you more money and take up more of your time to fix—that’s even with professional assistance. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to keep your entire drainage system running smoothly and efficiently. If you pay attention to these steps and keep things well-regulated, the odds of you running into a plumbing emergency decrease dramatically.

Firstly, develop a firm understanding of the intricacies of your plumbing system (to the best of your abilities.) If you’re completely unaware of how it should run when things are going smoothly, you won’t be able to tell with much confidence when something has gone wrong. Become familiar with how your drains work on a good day to prevent the bad days from happening.

Secondly, keep the entire system updated. All parts have a certain life expectancy, and ignoring these are a fantastic way to ensure you run into trouble down the road. Service your boiler annually, don’t let it outlive its expected amount of usage, and it shouldn’t give you any trouble.

Thirdly, be wary about what you put in your drains—food and chemicals. Even if you have a food processor, some foods are not to be processed by it. Greasy foods can leave the blades with a thick coating on them, pastas and rice can swell up once they’ve soaked in water long enough, and some vegetables and egg shells can wrap themselves around the blades rendering them ineffective. In the same way, not every cleaning agent was made to be used on your drains on a regular basis. Look into the proper procedures for using a chemical before you apply it to your system, some can harden and even become corrosive if ineffectively applied.

Finally, don’t attempt major repairs by yourself. Although there’s a chance you could fix it, odds are that you’ll end up doing some costly damage if you’re messing around with a device you’re unfamiliar with. Once you assess the damage, think carefully before determining if it’s manageable as a home-repair, or something you’ll want to call in professionals for.

When you begin to consider how a household’s drainage system operates, most of these preventive steps seem extremely logical. So to summarize most everything here; don’t abuse your drains. Clean them at regular intervals, don’t attempt any maintenance you feel unqualified to do, and listen closely if you suspect a problem.

Although it may seem daunting at first, keeping all of your parts clean, serviced, and up to date can become second nature. Soon enough you’ll know when it’s time to replace parts based on the service you’re getting from your current system. And most importantly, you’ll be saving yourself money and trouble in the process. Try to remain aware of how your plumbing system should be running, and you’ll be sure to notice when something is off. If you react to small problems accordingly, you’ll most likely be able to avoid the catastrophes in the long run.