Plumbing problems are the bane of many homeowners. Not only are they costly to repair, but they're also a huge inconvenience when they strike. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to stop small plumbing issues from becoming larger ones down the road. From repairing leaky faucets to changing water pressure and preparing for cold weather, here are a few simple steps in preventative plumbing maintenance.
Repair Leaky Faucets
Leaking faucets can add a lot of money to your bill and can become worse if not addressed in time. If you wait too long, a leaky faucet can cause considerable water damage. Avoid these costly repairs by checking for leaky faucets on a regular basis and repairing whenever necessary. You can check for leaky faucets by making sure no water is dripping when the faucet is completely closed.
Fix Clogged Drains
If not dealt with in time, a clogged drain can be an expensive thing to fix. Fortunately, you can prevent drains from becoming clogged with a little bit of vinegar and hot water. Mix equal amounts in a container and flush it down the drain once every couple of months to clean out the pipes. You can also manually remove clogs by cleaning the drain plug, where dirt, hair, and grime often accumulate over time.
Lower Water Pressure
A good amount of water pressure feels great in the shower, but it can actually damage pipes over time. Too high of water pressure can also cause noisy pipes, especially if they are not properly anchored. You can prevent broken pipes down the road by lessening the water pressure with a pressure reducer. Water pressure should be between 40 and 85 psi. You can measure water pressure with a hose bib gauge.
Install a Water Softener
Hard water can significantly reduce the lifespan of your home’s plumbing system. Hard water is usually defined as water that contains a high level of mineral content. These minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, build up in the pipes and slows down water flow. This in turn increases pressure, which is detrimental to joints and fittings. Some minerals can even corrode parts of the plumbing system altogether. You can fix this problem by installing a water softener in the main water line entering your home.
Know Your Plumbing System
It's important to know how your plumbing is laid out in case things go awry. For starters, you should know how to shut off your main water supply. If you ever have a large leak in the home, you will need to shut off the main valve as quickly as possible. You should also know the high and low points in your home’s plumbing system and where your pipes run throughout the home. If you have pipes that run in colder parts of the house, such as basements or crawlspaces, these should be properly insulated against the cold weather.
Avoid the Freeze
One of the biggest plumbing problems in the winter are frozen pipes. Not only will this take away your hot water for a short time, but it can be an expensive repair. You can prevent pipes from freezing by properly insulating them from the cold. This includes checking exterior hoses and installing insulating caps on exterior fixtures. When the freeze comes, open the cabinets under fixtures and sinks to ensure warm air circulates. You can also run a trickle of hot water to prevent freezing in the system.
Beware of What You Flush
It's tempting to flush anything down the toilet, but some items can actually harm pipes and do not break up in water. This includes chemicals that are reactive and paper towels. In fact, the only things you should flush down the toilet are toilet paper and approved wipes; always follow the directions when using flushable wipes as it's usually recommended to only flush one at a time.