1. Use a live enzyme plumbing product (such as Bio-Clean) to maintain sewer lines and keep them from clogging from grease or other byproducts. The product may seem expensive but it will save you tons of money and hassle in the future.

2. Know where your water main shuts off. If you live in a condo, find out if individual units will shut off or if the whole building has to be turned off. This comes in handy when you have a very bad leak.

3. Remove hoses from outside faucets before they freeze in the fall. When you remove the hose, it allows (new, freezeless) faucets to drain out and not ice over.

4. Check and make sure all stops under sinks and behind toilets turn easily so you can shut those off if you ever have a problem.

5. If you're installing or designing a new bathroom, make sure you have access to tub and shower valves from the other side of the wall(s) on which they are located. Never place new valves on an outside wall.

6. When buying a new home, make sure the sewer lines are checked for any root or settling problems.

7. Don't put large quantities of coffee grounds or MOST ANY STARCH PRODUCT (rice, potatoes, bread, etc.) down your garbage disposal! As my cousin found out, starch will turn into a paste and clog the drain. Coffee grounds tend to attract grease and build-up. Small chunks of the stuff are fine but if you peel a dozen potatoes into the sink and then try to stuff everything down the pig you are asking for it!

8. Make sure you know where all of your clean-outs (the access to the sewer line) are located.

9. Over time, galvanized water lines can corrode or rust shut. Copper lines are great. The new PEX or plastic pipes - although far less expensive than copper - are not nearly as durable and don't perform nearly as well.

10. Cheap fixtures (no matter how stylish they appear) are just that: cheap fixtures. They will break. Plumbing products and plumbers are expensive.

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