Thursday, September 22, 2022 / by Margie Wright
Just like everything else, your plumbing is subject to wear and tear. It operates more often than not, and it won't at all be unusual for things to happen out of the norm. But with some knowledge on hand, you can steer away from major disasters occurring!
1. Know Your Water Main
Your water main is the first access point for water going into your home. It's typically located in the basement near the water heater. If you're unsure, or if you're about to buy a new home, you can always ask to be shown exactly where it is! While you may not use it or need to use it much at all, it's important to know where it is in case you take on major plumbing projects or have an issue arise. On the water main, you'll see a shutoff valve (either a lever or a wheel). This valve will completely stop the flow of water into your home when you close it.
2. Know How to Deal with Clogged Drains
Clogged drains are going to happen. There's no way around them unless you're constantly cleaning out your drains, and even then, things can still happen! Clogged drains are the most common issue to deal with. For some people, the first instinct is to grab liquid drain cleaners but this may not be the best first instinct. Liquid drain cleaners can contain chemicals that can harm your plumbing infrastructure and lead to worse problems. Using a snake or similar tool first that can pull out the debris blocking your pipes is the better first step to take.
3. Keep Tabs on Water Pressure
Keeping your plumbing system healthy means always watching the water pressure. Monitor it regularly. Any hardware or home improvement store should have a simple pressure gauge pretty cheaply. There are even smart home water monitoring systems that you can install to stay on top of water pressure in real time, detect any leaks, and also track water usage.
4. Have a Working Pressure Reducing Valve
If you have high water pressure in your home, you'll definitely want to get it down to a safe level. A pressure reducing valve, or PRV, is a must-have in most homes that depend on a municipal water supply. This is because municipal water companies have to pump water at high pressures to serve fire hydrants, high-elevation homes, and high-rise buildings. Your home plumbing fixtures aren't designed for the high psi that those other things utilize. That's why the PRV is so important to have and be up to date on.
5. Toilet Care
First things first, have a plunger. They're relatively cheap and can solve most toilet clogs. Then, make sure to take great care that you only flush what needs to be flushed. Cotton swabs, baby wipes, paper towels, and other things can all get caught in your pipes and create clogs, building over time. Even better is to get toilet paper that dissolves well! You also want to make sure that your toilet is working properly. A running toilet is a telltale sign that something in the tank needs replacing. And normally, what needs replacing can be done by you!
6. Garbage Disposal Care
Garbage disposals are great tools to have in your home, but it's important to know what can and cannot go down them. Fats, oils, and grease solidify when they cool down and can cause buildup in your pipes. Stay away from pouring these down the drain to avoid a clog and further damage. Periodically put some ice cubes in your garbage disposal to keep the blades sharp.
7. Protect Your Pipes from the Cold
Water damage from frozen pipe bursts can easily lead to a repair bill with more figures than we care to be paying back. Getting your pipes winterized is important, especially if you live anywhere that gets cold in the winter. Make sure your home is properly insulated and any exterior pipes and fixtures have cold weather protection. As pipe bursts most often happen when people are away from their homes for extended periods of time, make sure to keep your home's thermostat set warm enough to save your pipes.
8. Know When to Replace Your Water Heater
Water heaters have a lifespan, and it's important not to procrastinate when it's time for a replacement. Once your water heater gets into the double digits for age, it's probably time to replace. With how much water it holds, that means the potential for a massive amount of damage should it leak or be damaged.
9. Look for Water Leaks
Water leaks can happen anywhere in the home. Sometimes they're easy to spot, but sometimes they're hidden away. Spots of discoloration on walls and ceilings are a telltale sign that there's water damage hidden away. A musty, mildew smell in basements, attics, or crawlspaces points towards mold buildup which is often the result of water leaks.
10. Fix Dripping Faucets
Not only are dripping faucets annoying, but they also waste water. This means more dollars on your water bill. Normally, dripping faucets are caused by high water pressure or a faulty component in the fixture. Most faucet repair jobs can be done by yourself. Repair videos are abundant online, so as long as you determine what kind of fixture you have, you'll be able to get it fixed!
11. Find a Local Plumber
Not every plumbing problem has a DIY fix. So unless you're a professional plumber yourself, it helps to have a local plumber in your contact list. Shop around. Ask friends, neighbors, family, and coworkers for recommendations. Call and ask the recommendations about pricing and response times.