Not all plumbing issues are avoidable, but many are if you periodically maintain your home’s plumbing system. Here is a checklist of inspections and upkeep tasks to preserve your home plumbing’s lifespan:
1) Inspect Fixtures For Leaks and Damage
Even what seems like minor damage has the potential to develop into something worse that ends up costing you a fortune.
Plumbing fixtures to check include:
- Water heaters
Fixtures should be examined for any indication of substantial deterioration such as cracks or significant corrosion. Also watch out for signs of a leak such as damp walls, moisture build-up and drips on the floor. Weak water flow may also be an indication of damage.
When inspecting a water heater, a puddle of water indicates the need for a new one or professional intervention. Since 25% of household energy consumption is spent heating water, and a water heater contains a lot of potentially damaging water, this is a particularly important appliance to keep in working order.
Faucet leaks at a one-drip-per-second pace can add up to over 3,000 gallons of water per year, all wasted. A leaking tap can have several causes, most common of which is a worn washer. Replacing this will do the trick 9/10 times.
When you inspect your plumbing fixtures, make sure you check out these three key areas:
- Water inputs (both hot and cold pipes, junctions, valves)
- Water controls (faucet, tap, on/off handles, shower head, toilet float system, drain plug, drain overflow, water pump, water filter)
- Water / waste outputs (drain, pipes, hoses, junctions, valves)
2) Look for Slow Drainage
Slow drainage is a sign of a potential blockage downstream of the pooling point. Generally, if the water flows down a drain slowly you can expect the situation to get worse and eventually back up completely. It’s much easier (and cheaper) to take action early before the situation gets much worse.
Plungers, chemical unblockers or natural cleaning remedies (such as baking soda and vinegar) can clear minor clogs in drains and pipes. You can also use a drain snake.
Slow drainage can be caused by multiple things but the number one tip to avoid blockages is to keep sinks, toilets, etc. clean of large bits. Don’t allow bits of food to wash down the kitchen sink unless they’ve been ground up in a garbage disposal. One simple solution for that is to use a mesh drain guard in your kitchen sink, bath and shower drains.
Be aware of what you flush or wash down the pipes. For example, do not flush anything but toilet paper down your toilets. “Flushable” wipes are a big culprit in major drain blockages.
3) Check Your Pipe Insulation
Frozen or burst pipes are definitely something to avoid. A single burst pipe can destroy floors, walls and belongings, and cost tens of thousands to fix.
If you live in a cold climate be sure to inspect your pipe’s insulation before the cold winter temperatures hit. If you don’t already have properly installed insulation, then do it yourself or hire a professional plumber to help.
4) Invest in a Water Treatment System
Water treatment helps to keep your water supply clean. Not only is this beneficial to your personal health and wellbeing but also for the wellbeing and performance of your plumbing network.
“Hard water” contains higher levels of calcium and magnesium which can irritate and dry out your skin. These metals also tend to build up as “scale” in your pipes and appliances. Water softening systems are designed to deal with this.
A large water filter removes harmful chemicals from your water system, allowing for better health and a smoother running plumbing system.