Maintaining Your Plumbing System
When it comes to the plumbing in your home, drain pipes can clog, and valves and fittings can develop leaks. Plumbing issues can wreak havoc on a home if you go too long before fixing them. One difficulty is that leaks can be hidden within a wall, or clogs can be growing within a pipe buried in your yard, and you won't notice until it completely stops up your drain.
Regular maintenance can prevent big damage
The key to preventing major plumbing problems? Maintenance. Just as you take your car in for a regular oil change, or visit your doctor for an annual checkup, add plumbing checkups to your routine house maintenance list.
Get started by setting a plumbing inspection schedule
Create a schedule for checking your plumbing so it doesn't get missed or forgotten. Plan to do an inspection every six months or so. Set a reminder on your phone or write it down on your calendar or planner. Include it wherever you keep track of your other routine appointments. By doing this, you'll help to ensure that any problem area gets noticed in a reasonable amount of time.
What to include in your regular maintenance and inspection
Think about all of the pipes and drains throughout your home. Take time to understand where the pipes run within your walls and how to access them. Take a look at your drains and be aware of their location as they leave your house and go toward the street to meet up with the larger city pipes. Are there trees that could be growing roots that might interfere with those pipes? If you notice anything out of the ordinary during your inspection, keep an eye on it and consult with a professional if needed. Don't wait to make repairs.
Visually inspecting for leaks regularly is important. You can do this by checking under sinks and around toilets. Look for signs of moisture and leaks, rust (red or brown) or lime deposits (white) which are early signs of trouble brewing. Taking care of minor leaks early will prevent more costly repairs later.
Inspect around your toilet carefully looking for cracks in the toilet, especially where it is bolted to the floor. Even a hairline crack can mean a leak is developing. Look around the inlet pipes and water lines, and on the tank bottom as well.
Along with regular inspections of your pipes, keep things clean and in optimal working order to help reduce the chances of large problems in the future. One of the most important steps: Don't wash things down the drain that can build up to create a clog.
This can be especially hard in the kitchen. Grease and coffee grounds are two of the most common culprits in kitchen drain clogs. If you have a disposal or just happen to run small pieces of food down the drain while rinsing dishes, make sure to run hot water for an extended period of time to completely rinse everything through the pipes. Many pipes are laid almost flat from the home out to the road, so you want to make sure you run the water long enough to push everything all the way through and out of your pipes.
Another step to take is using a screen over each drain. Screens over the bathroom drains will collect hair — which can cause massive clogs — and make it easy for you to throw it away instead of washing it down the drain.
Clean Your Drains
You can clean your drains in your sinks and tub by simply running hot water and then pouring a handful of baking soda down each of them. Let the hot water run for a few minutes and then repeat the steps. This helps remove grease and sediments that buildup over time in your pipes. You may want to do this a couple of times a year to avoid clogged pipes and drains.
Fix That Drip
Drippy faucets, leaky shower heads, and toilet flush valves that operate poorly should be changed or fixed. This will save you money on your water bill, and will prevent water damage in your home.
Don't be afraid to call for professional help
In the case of a major (or even minor) leak, don't be afraid to call a professional plumber. You want to slow and stop leaks before they result in major water damage throughout your house. If you are in over your head, call a plumber immediately. Many offer emergency services to help in cases like this.
Taking a little time to do regular, easy plumbing maintenance and inspections will allow you to catch a potential problem before it turns into a disaster.
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