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Your home is usually your largest, single purchase. Major systems within your home make up a lot of the value. Your plumbing system is crucial to maintaining a living space that retains its value. When your plumbing system works well, you have clean, clear water flowing freely from your taps and hot water to fill the tub. Clean water is essential to your health, hygiene and convenience, so regular plumbing service is a good idea.
Even small plumbing problems (leaky faucets, for example) can have unexpected costs. A drip per minute uses up 34 gallons of water each year. Multiple leaks mean a lot of water going down the drain. Here are some simple maintenance tips to help keep your plumbing in tip-top shape all year long and reduce the total cost of plumbing service.
1. Inspect Regularly
Plumbing leaks are one of the most expensive repairs, but not because it’s costly to fix a leak. These repairs tend to be expensive because it may not be caught early. Regular inspections are key to ensuring watertight systems throughout your home. Before worrying about plumbing service, inspect every appliance and system in your home. Water heaters, dishwashers, washing machines, faucets, and pipes all need a regular glance to ensure everything is working properly.
When inspecting your plumbing, pay special attention to joins where two pipes meet and endpoints where the water flows into a faucet or appliance. Add an inspection to your weekly checklist, and you can catch problems before they cause major damage. Once a leak leads to mold or wood rot, you’ll need to call a plumber and a contractor to fix the damage. Call for plumbing service as soon as you notice a leak and avoid a major repair.
2. Prevent Clogs
A clogged pipe means slow drains. Slow drains not only add to your cleaning time and may wreak havoc with your bathroom schedules, but it can also lead to waste pipe damage. Clogs buildup extra pressure in your pipes, leading to leaks. Clear clogs as soon as you notice a slowing drain and do your best to prevent clogs from ever happening.
In the kitchen, food debris and cooking oils are some of the most common causes of clogs. Oils and fats can solidify inside the pipe, completely blocking water flow. Never pour cooking oils down the drain. To avoid food blockages, be sure to use your garbage disposal properly. Turn the water on first, then add any food debris that needs grinding. Keep the water running after all the food is gone to flush out the pipeline. Avoid using the garbage disposal on fibrous foods like banana or potato peels. These can be difficult to grind and may clog the disposal.
In the bathroom, hair, bath oils and other personal care products can clog up the bathtub drain. Use less bath products and be sparing with the bath salts to let the water flush out the drain completely between uses. Drain screens are a great way to collect hair before it becomes a knotted mess inside your wastewater pipes. Keep the toilet clear by only flushing toilet paper. Even ‘flushable’ wipes might cause trouble for some systems, so it’s best to avoid them.
3. Prepare for the Winter
As the weather cools, it’s a good idea to prepare your pipes for the coming freeze. Drain all outside lines and turn off spigots. After everything is off, check for leaks. Be sure to call a plumber in to fix any leaking outdoor faucets before the first, big freeze. Disconnect your hose and make sure it is empty before putting it away for the season. Hoses are prone to freezing in the cold weather. Once everything is prepared, cover your outdoor taps with Styrofoam insulation covers to seal in warmth.
For unheated areas, insulate your pipes using heat tape. Your garage, basement or attic might have areas that don’t have heat, making the pipes more vulnerable. Pipes mounted on exterior walls may also be more prone to freezing and might benefit from heat tape. To prevent frozen pipes, regularly run the water, keeping it moving through both hot and cold plumbing lines. Also, heat the whole house enough to avoid freezing temperatures.
If your pipes do freeze, turn off the water before the freeze in the line and leave the taps on. This allows the water to flow out as it melts, reducing the pressure in the line. A heat gun or hair dryer applied directly to the pipe can help melt the frozen water slowly. If a pipe breaks due to freezing, turning off the water to that pipe reduces the damage and makes it easier during the plumbing service to repair the broken section.
4. Spring Cleaning Your Pipes
Plumbing service often starts with your drains. In the spring, when the danger of freezing is past, it is a good time to give your home a thorough inspection. Check for leaks and test all your drains. Fill up every sink and tub, letting the water drain all at once. Bubbles are a sign of a slow drain and you should consider scheduling plumbing service to remove any clogs. For appliances, check the hoses. Dry or cracked hoses can lead to leaks and other issues. Schedule plumbing service to fix the issue, as it can help prevent larger repairs down the road.
Spring is also a good time to check on your gutter system. Birds might build nests and fallen leaves can create dams that push water outside the gutters. Free-flowing water that runs down the exterior of your house can lead to foundation cracks, broken siding, and leaks on the interior of the wall.
By following a regular plumbing service routine that includes checking for leaks, testing drains, cleaning lint/dirt traps on appliances, and testing every faucet, you can help keep plumbing repairs small and affordable. Call bluefrog Plumbing + Drain to schedule plumbing service for leaky taps, low pressure, slow drains, or other plumbing problems that arise.