Avoiding Major Plumbing Issues as a Homeowner
How often do you think about the health of your plumbing? For many, it’s probably not until something goes wrong, and frankly, that’s completely normal. However, with a new year here, bringing in a new set of resolutions, it’s a great time to provide a bit of a refresh. Or should we say a plumbing reminder, one that highlights all the things you can do as a homeowner to prevent major repairs and damage down the road. Here’s what to keep in mind:
Do a Self Plumbing Check
Your plumbing, like many other systems in your home, is by no means a set-it-and-forget-it feature. Piping requires regular maintenance throughout the year and a watchful eye to keep the water in your home flowing issue-free. Here’s a handy guide to help you check the most important items off your general plumbing maintenance list:
- Make sure any exposed pipes are free of debris. There should be no signs of damage or corrosion and absolutely no leaks! Now’s the perfect time to re-up that insulation as well.
- Test your emergency shutoff valves. Can you locate your shutoff valves? What about the rest of your family members? Everyone should know how to turn off your water supply in the case of an emergency!
- Examine your taps for issues. Turn each tap on and off periodically. Do you hear strange sputtering sounds or see any abnormal discoloration? Is the water coming out warm when it’s supposed to?
- Inspect your water heater. Give your unit a visual once-over, looking for leaks or corrosion. Remember to be very careful, as the water heater can be very hot to the touch!
- Make sure your meter is error-free. Every so often, it’s good to give your meter a check-up. Turn off the water supply, read the meter and wait. A few hours later, the meter should still read the same… unless it’s broken!
Now that you know what to check for, it’s time to be aware of the signs or subtle hints that your plumbing has issues. After weeks, months, and years of use, eventually, our pipes and the plumbing fixtures we touch every day start to lose some of their strength.
Don’t worry, it’s natural. Just about everything we own is going to experience some wear and tear over time. However, the problem is that old and corroded plumbing can cause some pretty unwanted issues — like discolored or metallic tasting water, or worse, lead contamination.
Warning Signs That It’s Time to Replace Your Plumbing:
You experience a lot of leaks. A leak here or there is normal and should be expected by all homeowners. What isn’t normal, is for leaks to be popping up all over the place or reoccurring after several repairs have already been made.
Your water is rusty. Although you can’t see how most of your pipes look on the inside, if the water coming into your sink or tub has a rusty hue, that means your pipes are starting to decay.
Your pipes are discolored and/or flaking. For those pipes that are exposed, such as in your basement, take a look at how they appear visually. If it looks like something isn’t right and certain areas are discolored, flaking, or even stained, there’s probably some corrosion happening.
Your water pressure is too low. Water pressure may fluctuate for several reasons, and if it happens once, you likely don’t have to be too concerned. But, if yours is low often, it could mean that your pipes are degrading on the inside, causing buildup that prevents water from flowing freely.
Your home is aging. Even if nothing appears to be wrong from what you can see and you aren’t experiencing any problems, if your home is about 60+ years old and the plumbing hasn’t been replaced, you should at the very least have everything inspected by a professional. It’s better (and more cost-effective) to be proactive than reactive!
And speaking of being proactive, it’s never too early to prepare for the spring season! And though winter will be here for a few more months, here is what to look for when it comes to the upcoming season and your plumbing:
Prep Your Plumbing For Spring By:
Inspect your irrigation systems. We’re talking about that sprinkler system of yours! Since backflow prevention devices protect potable water from contamination and pollution, you’ll want to make sure they are in working condition before the start of the season and replace any broken parts.
Replace damaged hose bibs. Hose bibs and yard hydrants are exposed to some pretty bad weather during the winter, and believe it or not, they’re not invincible. Since some ruptures are not visible, be thorough with your inspection, and replace whatever needs fixin’!
Search for leaks. Dripping faucets and cracked pipes can wreak havoc on your home and cause unnecessary spikes on your water bill. For that reason, make sure leak detection and repair are top of mind as you spring to seasonal maintenance.
Listen for running water. If your toilet tank seems to run constantly unless you jiggle the handle, you may need to replace some worn parts. Fortunately, this is usually an inexpensive fix that also yields water savings — win-win!
Clean and replace drain screens. Hair gets everywhere, especially in the shower. That’s why it’s so important to have clean, functional drain screens to catch hair, soap, and debris before it clogs up your pipes and requires professional drain cleaning.
Test the sump pump. Pour a few buckets of water into your sump pump basin to be sure it kicks on and off properly. That way, in the event of a flood, you’ll know you’re covered! (While you’re at it, you may want to check out our sump pump maintenance checklist as well.)
Flush your water heater. As time goes on, sediment can build up in your tank, which reduces heating efficiency and shortens your water heater’s lifespan. Draining a few gallons of water each spring can help flush out some of that sediment.
Clean your yard drains and gutters. Your yard drains and gutters play a huge role in your home’s ability to divert water away, and if they are filled with debris, they won’t be able to do their job! Clearing them out prevents excess water from filling up around all parts of the house. It would also be best if you prune any invasive branches to stop them from damaging your gutters and roof.
Have a camera inspection. The best way to know what’s really going on deep down in your plumbing is to have a look. This can easily be done with a visual camera inspection by a professional plumbing company. It’s minimally invasive and extremely effective to both prevent and diagnose plumbing problems.
It’s also important to educate yourself on how the seasonal change could alter the plumbing problems you might find.
Spring Plumbing Facts to Keep in Mind
- Higher humidity can cause an increase in condensation in your ductwork. Untreated, this may produce unwanted mold and even a backup if the drains are not clear. If your ducts are sagging in some areas or have any cracks, it creates the perfect environment for water to seep into your ceiling.
- Your sewer line is more likely to back up in the warmer months. This is due to an increase in rainwater and new tree root growth. Since sewer line backups can be very problematic, it’s a good idea to have a plumber inspect your sewer line pipes to let you know if they are damaged or are in danger of being so.
- The garbage disposal is not a catch-all. Be careful what you place in your garbage disposal after you barbecue. Dumping fats and oils down the drain creates the potential for clogs. You should also avoid disposing of fibrous or stringy foods such as corn husks, banana peels, and celery in your sink. They can bind the blades of the disposal, causing the motor to be overworked. If you do experience such an issue, it is crucial to call a professional for help. You should never take the risk of sticking your hand in the disposal, as even with the motor turned off, the blades can still cut you.
Orange County Plumbing Services
Has it been a while since you had your plumbing inspected by a professional? Perhaps there are some red flags that something may have gone awry. Whatever the case may be, if you live in Orange County, CA, or the surrounding area, Barker and Sons Plumbing & Rooter is the only name you need to know!
We offer both proactive and reactive plumbing services to help you prevent and repair damaged plumbing systems. That means that even if you don’t see anything obviously wrong with your plumbing right now, it might be a good idea to check up on it and perform some helpful maintenance services.