Plumbing Hacks: What Won’t Work (And What to Do Instead)

In a world where information is available at your fingertips, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that there’s also a lot of disinformation out there as well, particularly when it comes to home utility hacks. In this article, we’ll debunk four plumbing hacks that have gained popularity on the Internet, explain why you shouldn’t try these at home and offer an effective solution.

Hack 1: putting a brick or jug in a toilet tank to save water

One money saving hack recommends putting a brick or jug in your toilet tank to displace the water, meaning less water will be used per flush. With claims that this hack can save up to two gallons of water per day, per person, it may seem tempting to try. However, bricks can fragment over time causing damage to the toilet. Moreover, regardless of what you use to displace the water, less water results in a less powerful flush, meaning the toilet may require more flushes to clear the bowl.

What to do instead

Although the toilet is a great place to save on water, rather than placing a brick in the tank, make sure that your toilet seals properly and, if you notice your toilet continuously running, work to get those components replaced immediately. If you’re serious about conserving water, consider a low-flow water-saving toilet.

Hack 2: a hot water/soap mix to unclog a toilet

Some online sleuths have sworn that by pouring liquid dish soap and hot water into your toilet, you can successfully dislodge a clog. To be frank, although you may get some bubbly water, this will not work to unclog your toilet.

What to do instead

Grab a plunger. Plungers create a suction in the toilet bowl and help push water through the plumbing to clear clogs. Can’t relieve the clog after working with a plunger? Then it’s time to call in a professional like North East, as the drain likely needs to be snaked.

Hack 3: baking soda and vinegar for clogged drains

Another Internet hack involves unclogging a build up of hair and debris by pouring baking soda and vinegar down your drain. This isn’t a good idea – largely because this mixture can also create pressure within the plumbing, which, when not adequately released, can damage your plumbing creating a bigger issue. 

What to do instead

Keep the baking soda and vinegar in the kitchen cupboard and try using a plunger to unclog your drain. If a plunger doesn’t do the trick and the clog is at one fixture, a bowl or sink auger is the next best option. You can purchase these at any hardware store to quickly break up drain clogs. We at North East recommend hand crank augers, rather than the drill attachment option, as you are less likely to cause damage with a hand crank.

Hack 4: lemons to freshen garbage disposals

One common home remedy to clean your garbage disposal touts the benefits of putting lemons down the disposal. Although this may temporarily make your sink smell better, our professionals argue that lemons are far too fibrous and will overwork your garbage disposal and even cause it to clog instead of cleaning it.

What to do instead

Instead of using lemons to clean your garbage disposal, we recommend using ice. The ice will help dislodge debris from the disposal blades. Regularly doing so will prevent bad smells from lingering.


Plumbing hacks may make for entertaining online videos and articles, but they’re not effective solutions for your home. Have a plumbing issue that you’re not sure how to handle? Contact us today to schedule an appointment and get your plumbing running smoothly.

Header Photo by Ghislaine Guerin on Unsplash


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