Understanding the problems and performing preventative maintenance can help you avoid plumbing problems. The first step for preventative maintenance involves understanding everything that is included in your water system. These are everything that uses water in your home, such as the sinks in your bathroom, kitchen and laundry/utility room, your appliances such as the refrigerator, garbage disposal and washing machine, toilets, showers, and your water heater. All of these can be maintained to prevent plumbing problems from getting out of hand.
Here are some preventative maintenance tips you can use:
- Fix leaking faucets and showerheads. Dripping faucets can waste a lot of water and that can add to your bill. And if you don’t fix a dripping faucet or showerhead, the drip can get worse over time. Those problems can cause water damage. To prevent problems, check your facets regularly for leaks and make repairs as needed. Check the handles to make sure no water drips when the handles are turned to the off position and check underneath the sinks for water stains or drips when the water is running.
- Unclog slow drains. When the water is slow to drain there may be a problem. Before it gets out of hand, use a homemade mixture of vinegar and hot water to flush down the drain and unclog any debris. This preventative maintenance tip can be done every few months and will get the drain flowing again.
- Check all exposed pipes and appliances for water leaks. Your disposal, refrigerator, or water heater can be the source of a leak. Look at any manufacturer’s requirements for maintaining your appliances. Watch for visible signs of a leak such as water stains on walls and ceilings, or puddles of water. Also be wary of mildew. Installing a drip tray underneath your water heater and washing machine can help limit damage if a leak were to occur.
- Fix leaking toilets. Sometimes a faulty seal around the valve seat can cause your toilet to run even when it is not flushed. Over time, gunk will form around the valve seat and flapper. This gunk will prevent the flapper to seal properly, which will cause the water to continue to run. Another problem could be with the handle or tank stopper. The repair that is needed is often quick and inexpensive maintenance.
- Be careful what you flush or pour down the drain! The problem with drains and toilets is that so many things can get flushed down them. The easiest way to prevent problems with your pipes is to be careful what you flush or pour down them to begin with. Don’t flush anything other than toilet paper and human waste down the toilet. Don’t pour anything that can be reactive down the drain.
- Check the water pressure. Water pressure is how much force is coming out of your faucets and shower heads. You can test the water pressure on your system with a pressure gauge to make sure it is at a safe level. One other preventative measure is to add a pressure regulator to maintain your water pressure at a safe level.
- Remove and clean your shower head of any sediment that may have accumulated. This can improve the water pressure of your shower head.
- Drain your water heater to remove sediment annually to semi-annually. Over time your water heater can get sediment in it and become less effective.
- Look inside the burner chamber of your water heater. You shouldn’t see any flakes of rust inside of the chamber. And verify the flame of the water heater is a blue color with no signs of yellow in the flame. If you see a yellow color, this may mean that the jets need to be cleaned.
- Check the hoses for signs of cracks, brittleness, or leaking. Replace your hoses as needed.
- If you have a septic tank, you should have it regularly inspected. Add pumping your septic tank to your list as an important part of maintenance.
- If you have a sewer system, it is good to understand how your lines run and inspect for tree roots that could potentially damage your sewer lines. A preventative measure would be to have your sewer lines snaked periodically to avoid clogging.
Performing preventative maintenance for your plumbing can help you avoid a major plumbing problem. Sometimes you may need a repair after checking items to keep them maintained.