Maintenance is part of being a homeowner. Plumbing issues are some of the worst to deal with and they always seem to happen at the most inconvenient time. If you have “sound plumbing,” that should be music to the ears. But even a well installed plumbing system needs to be maintained in order to keep it in good working order. By giving your plumbing a little regular Tender Loving Care (TLC) and being aware of potential problem areas, you can prolong its life and save yourself money and headaches.
BE PROMPT AND VIGILANT
Minor repairs should be dealt with promptly. Plumbing problems rarely go away on their own and usually just get worse. Even small leaks can cause extensive water damage and mold. Arm yourself with a plunger, a wrench and a sewer snake and you should be able to tackle smaller problems like dripping faucets, stuck valves, blocked toilets and clogged drains.
KNOW WHERE YOUR SHUT-OFF VALVE IS
Don’t wait until you have a major flood to wonder where to turn off the water to your home. Also check where the shut-off valves are for individual items like sinks, toilets, washing machines and dishwashers before you need to know in a hurry.
WATCH WHAT GOES DOWN THE DRAIN
Plumbers get more calls to unclog drains than anything else. Be aware of what you put down the drain. If you think it might cause a blockage, don’t do it. Prevention is definitely better than cure.
KEEP YOUR PRESSURE DOWN
High water pressure may feel great when you are taking a hot shower, but too much pressure can put a strain on your plumbing pipes. Water delivered to your home should flow at a rate between 50 and 75 psi (pounds per square inch.) You can buy a gauge for around $10 that attaches to an outside water outlet and measures your water pressure. If your pressure is too high, you can purchase a water reduction valve to ensure you are not putting a strain on your system.
INSPECT YOUR WASHING MACHINE HOSES
Check your hoses regularly for signs of wear and consider replacing rubber hoses with braided stainless steel. They last longer and are more resistant to leaks and cracks.
SOFTEN IT UP
If you live in a hard water area, you might want to consider installing a water softener. Hard water has a high mineral content of magnesium or calcium that builds up inside the pipes, restricting the flow and increasing pressure. The minerals can also corrode the joints and fittings. Traditional softeners add sodium to counteract the hard minerals in your water, but there are also electronic softeners that use electromagnetic pulses to dissolve the minerals.
Treat your toilet with a little respect. It is not a wastebasket. Toilet paper is designed to dissolve in water. All those other things that we are tempted to throw down there are not!