Keeping your plumbing system running smoothly takes work. Check out this guide to learn about the top plumbing maintenance tips. Did you know that 19.5% of homeowners’ insurance claims in 2017 were for water damage and freezing? That’s right! What’s more, it was reported that these damages led to an average loss of $10,234! Unfortunately, many cases of water damage and freezing are due to faulty plumbing. If such occurs due to lack of plumbing maintenance, a standard policy won’t cover the damages. That’s why it’s crucial that you do your part in keeping your plumbing system healthy and happy. You don’t always need to hire a pro plumber, as there are many preventative maintenance steps you can do on your own.
Ready to avoid the costly disasters that can arise from plumbing malfunctions? Then keep reading as we cover the key steps you can do to maintain your home’s plumbing work in this post!
If It’s Not Liquid, Don’t Pour It Down the Drain
Three rolls of toilet paper — that’s how many each American consumes every week. A huge portion of that, as you can imagine, goes straight down the toilet bowl. Let’s not forget about the strands of hair each of us sheds in a day, which is around 50 to 100 strands. Add to that dead skin cells, bits of soap, grease, and food scraps. Many of that end up flushed down the sink and straight to the plumbing pipes.
Unfortunately, these don’t disintegrate right away, so they end up blocking the pipes. The more debris that accumulates in the pipes, the larger the clogs would be. All that sludge, aside from causing blockages, also attract bacteria. That said, a key step to healthy home plumbing pipes is to be careful of what you allow to pass through the drains! If it’s not liquid (or if it won’t stay liquid, like oil or grease), don’t pour it down the sink.
Invest in Mesh Drain Covers
Speaking of sinks, one of the easiest plumbing tips to protect pipes is to install mesh covers on drains. You can buy these mesh drain covers anywhere, from supermarkets to hardware stores. Kitchen and bathroom sink drains can cost as little as $1 apiece, so get one for each of these drains. Shower and floor drains cost a little more, as they’re bigger. You don’t need a lot of them though since you likely only need a couple for each bathroom in your home.
Be Careful of Flushing “Flushable” Items
Also, it’s best not to flush items even if they say “flushable” (makeup removers, wet wipes, and baby wipes). Why? First, because they’re stronger than tissue paper when wet, making them “more” robust. Meaning, even if they will disintegrate at some point, they won’t be that quick to do so. Now, if they’re still breaking down into smaller pieces, they can mix with grease and oil. If they do and that liquid solidifies, they can turn into a huge block of clog. That’s when it can mess up with your plumbing and cause a clogged drainpipe. So, rather than risking your home’s plumbing pipes, avoid flushing any solid items.
Unclog Slow Sink and Floor Drains
Although the tips above can help prevent clogging, you may still end up with blocked drains. First, because you can’t catch all hair strands and tiny debris that may still go through the mesh covers. Second, members of your household (also your guests) may still flush non-flushable stuff.
If there’s not a lot of gunk in your drains, a plunger can do the trick. If not, then you need to learn how to snake a kitchen drain. It’s quite easy, don’t worry. First, buy a drain snake, also called “hand auger”, either online, at a hardware store, or a home center. Prepare a bucket with soapy water, a bin to throw the gunk in, and wear protective gloves. Get a few cleaning rags too, which you’ll use to wipe the gunk away from the snake cable.
Once you’re ready, pull the tip of the snake out of the coil and insert about 6 to 10 inches of the cable into the drain. Keep cranking the snake and feeding the cable into the drain line until you feel resistance. This means you’ve hit the jackpot (AKA clog), so keep pushing the cable until there’s no more tension in the cable. Once the tension drops, this means the clog has broken down. Slowly crank the drain snake counterclockwise to retrieve the cable. As you do this, clean the cable with the rags dipped in the soapy water. It’s best to repeat the process until the snake doesn’t hit any more obstruction. After this, pour or run warm water to flush the drain line. The water should go through the drain faster, without any delay or bubbling sounds.
Do Regular Inspections of Your Plumbing Fixtures
Did you know that a single faucet with a leak rate of 5 drips/minute already wastes 173 gallons of water a year? Let’s do a bit of math to see just how much water that is. One glass of water is about 250 ml, and one gallon is equivalent to 4,546.09 ml. That means the faucet leak example above wastes 786,474 ml of water every year. Measured per glass, that single leaky faucet costs you about 3,145 glasses of water in one year!
While that may not affect your water bill that much, it’s more about conserving water. Plus, leaky faucets can also amp up the moisture level in your home. The more moisture there is indoors, the higher your risks for mold and mildew development. So, always be on the lookout for leaky faucets, showerheads, and other plumbing fixtures! As soon as you notice them, try tightening the screws and bolts using pliers and wrenches.
If they’re old, their ball bearing, cartridge, or ceramic cylinder may already be too worn out. In this case, it’s best to replace them with new, more water-efficient faucets. If a DIY replacement isn’t up your alley or if you have too many leaky faucets, it’s best to leave the tasks to pros. Especially if you have cartridge faucets, the cartridge of which can snap in the valve. The website of United Plumbing has a list of other types of faucet repairs and replacements. You may want to check it out to determine which leaky faucet problem you may have.
Get Rid of Mineral Deposits Clogging Up Faucets and Shower Heads
Low water pressure is often a sign of sediment build-up in water lines and fixtures. This is common in homes supplied with hard water, which, unfortunately, is 90% of U.S. homes. Hard water, per se, isn’t a health hazard, although it can interfere with your plumbing system. Over time, the sediments found in hard water can settle in pipes and fixtures, causing scaling. This mineral buildup can restrict water flow and cause inefficiency in your appliances.
Effective regular maintenance for plumbing should include getting rid of these deposits. It’s easy for faucets and showerheads, as you can simply unscrew them to remove the sediment buildup. You need to let them soak for at least 24 hours in vinegar though. Vinegar’s acid content is strong enough to break down these mineral deposits. That’s why it also works quite well on eliminating deposits in sinks and drains.
Don’t Forget to Take Care of Exposed Yet Hidden Plumbing Pipes
Perform routine inspection of all exposed plumbing pipes in your home. These include pipes under your sinks, basement, disposal system, water heater, and refrigerator. Since they’re exposed to elements, they can be quicker to develop a leak. Puddles of water under these pipes signal a leak, which you should address right away. It can be due to loose joints, rusting, or cracks and holes in the pipes. If you see any of these leak signs, get them sealed right away. For starters, apply a pipe sealant on all the damaged areas. In case the source of the leak is hard to detect, it’s best to hire a professional plumber instead.
Test Your Toilets for Leaks (And Fix Them ASAP)
A typical U.S. household consumes about 300 gallons of water a day. A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons of water every day. That’s already two-thirds of the average daily water consumption of an American household! That’s why you should never delay fixing leaks, especially in toilet tanks. The thing is, some are sneaky leaks, so you may not catch it right away. There’s an easy way to determine this though: Add a few drops of light food coloring in the tank.
Wait for about 30 minutes. If there’s a leak, the water in the toilet bowl will change into the same color of the food coloring you used. In this case, you may only need to replace the toilet tank ball or tighten the flush handle/tank stopper. The gunk that forms around the flapper and valve seat may also be a culprit. This build-up prevents proper sealing of the flapper, causing it to run continuously. Clean the gunk away to see if this will seal the flapper.
Follow This Plumbing Maintenance Guide to Avoid Expensive Water Damages
There you have it, all the crucial plumbing maintenance steps you should be doing right now. So long as you follow these tips, you can reduce your risks of indoor flooding and water damage. These preventative maintenance hacks may even help you lower your water bills!
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