Plumbing Maintenance Tips Every Homeowner Should Know
Dealing with a plumbing disaster is a homeowner’s worst nightmare for good reason. If you’re unprepared and don’t act fast to fix a leak or a burst pipe, it could result in major water damage and high costs you weren’t planning on.
We can’t always avoid the unexpected, but we can do our part to get ahead of major repairs by checking in on our plumbing system regularly. By doing so, we can potentially extend the life of our plumbing systems and save on repair costs.
But where do you start when attempting plumbing maintenance? Drawing from seventeen years of experience connecting plumbing service seekers with plumbers, Service Direct has learned a lot about the top reasons why people call the plumber, and the maintenance practices that can go a long way toward preventing them.
We hope this guide helps you keep your plumbing in excellent shape for years to come!
Check for Toilet Leaks
As a homeowner, it’s important to frequently check your toilet for any leaks. Did you know that even silent leaks can waste more than 30 gallons of water a day? That’s nearly 1,000 gallons a month! Such leaks are so stealthy and common that they are one of the first things we recommend checking in the event of an unexpectedly high water bill. In addition to saving money on wasted water, checking for leaks can help you spot issues before a major failure happens.
To ensure your plumbing is in top shape, homeowners should check the flapper valve of their toilet every few months, inspect seals and connections for leakage, as well as ensure all hand-tightened components are secure.
Additionally, checking the tank’s water level and making sure no debris clogs your plumbing system are important plumbing maintenance tips that even novice plumbers could do on their own.
Practice Drain Cleaning
Drain clogs are consistently one of the top reasons why people pick up the phone to dial a plumber. But, in many cases, these clogs can be prevented or postponed with careful attention to what goes down the drain and some regular maintenance.
A simple plumbing maintenance solution is to practice regular drain cleaning. Doing this helps keep plumbing fixtures running efficiently and reduces the risk of plumbing failures, saving you unplanned repair costs in the long run.
Practicing simple things like removing debris from sink and shower drains can prevent clogs from forming. Items best suited for the compost bin or trash can, like potato skins and batches of coffee grounds, can clog your drain fast, so keep them out of the sink.
Besides watching what goes down your drain, you can also do some pre-emptive cleaning yourself. Simply pouring a stock pot of very hot water down your drains once a week can go a long way to flushing out your drain line. Another generally helpful option is to pour a non-caustic enzymatic drain cleaner down the drain once a month. If you don’t mind getting a little messy, use an auger snake every once in a while to prevent larger blockages.
Taking these simple steps on a regular basis will make all the difference when it comes to preventing plumbing leaks or breakdowns.
Keep Pipes From Freezing
One of the most important plumbing maintenance tasks is to keep pipes from freezing during winter months. as plumbing pipes that freeze during cold winter months are very vulnerable to bursting and causing extensive damage.
Recent climate change has exacerbated pipe freezing problems, as homes built to handle warm temperatures that are now experiencing colder “arctic blast” events are bursting in places where homeowners previously had no reason to worry. In fact, Damage from frozen pipes – in the form of bursts and leaks – made up more than 20% of all the plumbing calls we handled in winter 2022-23.
Fortunately, homeowners can take a number of measures to reduce risks, such as adding extra insulation around pipes exposed to cold temperatures, maintaining the house at a comfortable temperature, draining outdoor plumbing fixtures when not in use and properly turning off water supply valves before freezing weather sets in.
Follow these tips for common home plumbing maintenance repairs you can do yourself to keep your home in good working order and your plumbing costs down.
Use Your Garbage Disposal Correctly
To avoid plumbing breakdowns and save costs in the long run, it’s important to use the disposal correctly. For starters, avoid using hot water when you run the disposal: cold water allows particles to form a solid mass and get pushed down the drain instead of spreading further into plumbing systems.
Also don’t put fibrous materials like banana or plantain peels, onion skins, or potato skins down the garbage disposal– these can get caught in blades and cause clogs. Finally, always make sure to keep chemicals away from your plumbing– these can corrode tubes and connections over time.
Test Water Pressure
One of the simplest plumbing checks to do at home is a water pressure test. It’s important to keep an eye on your water pressure in order to detect potentially expensive plumbing problems early and avoid costly breakdowns later on.
Assessing the quality and consistency of your water pressure can also give you a better understanding of when it’s time for plumbing upgrades or system repairs. Start by using a plumbing pressure gauge (they’re affordable and easy to find) to capture quick snapshots of your home’s water pressure over different times throughout the day – especially if your plumbing hasn’t been serviced recently.
Be sure to check different fixtures to identify problems. If you find low water pressure happening at a single faucet or showerhead, and not others, you can often restore pressure by addressing an easily resolved clog in the fixture (a clogged sink aerator/cartridge, or a clogged shower head).
If your home water pressure is above 80 psi, contact a plumbing professional to install a water pressure regulator right away. Doing so can prevent high water pressure from causing costly damage to your plumbing system and appliances.
Check Shut Off Valves
A plumbing maintenance check of your home’s shut off valves should be part of your weekly routine! Knowing where the shut off valves are located, and making sure they turn freely is an effective way to save plumbing costs.You should also visually inspect the valve for any signs of leaking, corrosion, and build up. This process takes just a few minutes to perform.
Plus, being familiar with these important parts of the plumbing system could actually prevent floods and spikey plumbing bills due to more serious problems down the line.
For example, if a pipe were to burst or leak from a higher location in your plumbing system, having access to and knowledge on how to use the shut offs could prevent a very messy situation. So remember – it pays to check those shutdowns before trouble arrives at your door!
Insulate Plumbing System
One of the easier plumbing maintenance tips for homeowners is to insulate their plumbing system. Insulating your plumbing pipes, tanks and other components can help prevent costly breakdowns and avert expensive repair bills by reducing heat loss (not to mention reduce the risk of freezing mentioned above).
Not only that, but it also helps in maintaining hot water temperature in winter months and can increase energy efficiency as well. For DIY plumbing maintenance regarding insulating your plumbing system, use foam pipe insulation on exposed plumbing pipes and fittings in areas such as the attic or basement.
You should also make sure to use appropriate materials like fiberglass insulation around hot water heaters, radiators and other similar units to reduce the risk of potential fire hazards. Doing all this will not only help save money with heating bills but also provide additional assurance that your plumbing system is working reliably.
Inspect Your Water Heater
One plumbing maintenance step you can take is to inspect your water heater regularly. Don’t just leave checking the water heater until there’s an issue or breakdown. During an inspection, look out for rust buildup or strange noises coming from the heater that can indicate its functionality is decreasing.
Make sure to also pay attention to unusual odors as these could be signs of trouble. Additionally, check the temperature gauge to ensure it’s heat setting within a safe range.
Doing this simple plumbing maintenance on your water heater will save you time and money by avoiding any costly repairs or breakdowns that may occur from not adequately keeping up with its reliability.
We hope these top plumbing maintenance tips help you keep your plumbing appliances reliable and prevent any repair costs that can be avoided by performing simple plumbing maintenance! We wish you luck on your journey of building more knowledge around all things plumbing in order to be a more prepared homeowner!
Plumbing Maintenance Tips FAQs
What is the best water pressure for a home?
While exact recommendations vary, a water pressure range between 40 and 70 psi is generally safe. If your water pressure is too low, water flow will reduce to a trickle, and, in extreme cases (below 20 psi), allow bacteria to seep into your pipes. Pressure that is too high can put too much stress on your plumbing and fixtures, leading to leaks, worn out gaskets, and more.
ow Do I Keep My Pipes From Freezing?
You can keep your pipes from freezing by covering exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or duct tape, sealing cracks in the walls that let cold air in, or keeping cabinet doors open below your sinks to allow warm air in. Some other ways are to run water through the pipe at a trickle to prevent ice formation, and you should also keep your thermostat set to the same temperature during day and night.
Where Can I Find My Shut-Off Valve?
Depending on whether you have municipal water service or a private well, the location of your shut off valve may vary. If you have municipal water service, your shut off valve will be near the edge of your property, often between the curb and the sidewalk . It will be under a rectangular or round cover that may say “water meter” on it. You will need to open the cover and look for a valve that you can turn clockwise to shut off the water.
How Often Should I Inspect My Water Heater for Maintenance?
You should inspect your water heater at least once or twice a year, and more often if you have hard water or use it frequently. Make sure to check the area around the tank for any signs of leaks, corrosion or flammable materials as well as the temperature and pressure relief valve for proper functioning and no leaks.
What is Safe To Put Down The Garbage Disposal?
You can put most biodegradable food scraps down your garbage disposal, such as cooked meat, egg shells, coffee grounds and citrus rinds. These items can be ground up by the blades and flushed away with water. You should always run cold water when using your garbage disposal to help move the food waste along and prevent grease from solidifying.
Hire a Local Plumbing Pro
If you need professional help with any of your home’s plumbing maintenance or repair issues, then don’t hesitate to contact a local plumbing pro using the phone number or form on this page.