When it comes to household plumbing, it’s easy to ignore the intricate web of pipes when the whole system is working fine. So long as water runs from a tap, toilets flush, and there’s no obvious evidence of leakage, homeowners naturally turn their attention to more pressing upgrades, improvements, or fixes.
But a little monthly preventative maintenance can go a long way toward lowering the possibility of any catastrophic, and expensive, plumbing disasters.
1. Check For Leaky Faucets
As well as being annoying, leaky faucets waste water. If left unrepaired, the leak could worsen, resulting in higher water bills. Faucet leaks can also cause damage, the least of which might be an unsightly ring in your tub or sink. While you’re fixing that leak, make sure to check for leaks around the valves, too, when you turn them on.
2. Check Drains For Clogs
A sink or tub that empties slowly, or emits bubbles as it drains, likely has a clog that is constricting the free flow of water. Clogs aren’t just annoying, they can cause damage by putting excessive pressure on the system. If a slow drain turns into a solid clog, unexpected overflow can cause further water damage. The sooner you can loosen up debris, the better.
Try to prevent clogs altogether by adding hair traps in tubs and showers and avoiding pouring anything that can congeal in cold water, like oils and grease, down the drain.
3. Treat Your Garbage Disposal Right
Clogs in garbage disposals are all-too-common and they usually take the sink out of commission just when you have a pile of dirty pots waiting.
Most garbage disposal problems can be avoided by a few preventative measures daily. The most important of which is to watch what you put in them. Avoid greases and oils, fibrous things like banana peels and celery, really hard items like peach pits or bones, and foods that swell and absorb moisture like pasta and potato peels.
4. Inspect Exposed And Hidden Pipes And Hoses
A once-a-month sweep of pipes and hoses is a great way to keep tabs on leaks. A leak that is out-of-sight, such as in the under-the-cabinet pipes, can cause damage to the cabinetry and floor. If left undetected, mold could grow and rot can set in.
Check the exposed pipes, too, especially those in the basement, crawl space, or attic. Pinhole leaks in copper piping, rust on galvanized steel, or cracks may be the first indication that it’s time to patch, or replace, old or damaged sections of pipe.
Washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerators have hoses or copper piping to carry water to the appliances. Check around and behind these appliances for drips or puddles that may indicate leaks.
5. Check Your Water Heater For Leaks And Rust
Tank water heaters tend to have a ten-to-fifteen-year working life, but most people don’t notice that tucked-away tank until it makes a pool out of the basement. A monthly check of the floor around the tank, as well as the valves around the intake pipe, will give you a sense of when it’s time to shop for a new unit.
6. Clean Your Shower Head
Over time, mineral deposits may build up and clog the small holes in your shower head. To relieve the water pressure behind the shower head, soak it in a bag of vinegar solution diluted in a 1:1 ratio with water.
7. Listen To Your Toilet
Phantom flushing, constant running, or a pool of water around the base are all indications that your toilet plumbing needs attention.
Making a habit of plumbing maintenance procedures can go a long way to protect this most important system in your home. If during your maintenance check, you discover a plumbing issue that needs attention but don’t know how to fix it, never hesitate to call your local trusted plumber.