Owning a home comes with many responsibilities, including maintaining your plumbing system. As a homeowner, it’s important to know the basics of plumbing care and when to call in a professional. Follow these five essential plumbing tips to keep your water flowing smoothly for years to come.
1. Locate Your Main Water Shut-Off Valve
Knowing where your main water shut-off valve is located is crucial in case of a plumbing emergency. This valve allows you to stop the water flow into your home. Take the time to locate the valve and make sure all members of your household know where it is. The main shut-off is usually found near where the water line enters your home, either near the front of your home or the basement. Make sure the valve is completely closed by turning it clockwise.
2. Drain Exterior Faucets Before Freezing Weather
Freezing temperatures can damage exterior faucets and pipes. Avoid burst pipes and costly repairs by draining and shutting off all outside faucets before the first frost. Start by turning off the inside valve for each outdoor faucet. Then open the outside faucet to allow excess water to drain. Make sure to remove any garden hoses as trapped water can freeze and expand, breaking the faucet or pipe. Consider installing frost-proof faucets to avoid this seasonal chore.
3. Clean Faucet Aerators Regularly
Clogged faucet aerators are a common cause of low water pressure. These screens easily collect mineral deposits from water flow. To clean, unscrew the aerator from the tip of the faucet. Soak the screen in white vinegar to dissolve minerals. Use a stiff brush to remove stubborn deposits. Rinse thoroughly before reattaching. Cleaning aerators every few months helps improve water flow.
4. Prevent Clogs with Hair Catchers
Hair and soap scum are notorious for clogging drains. Place hair catchers or drain screens over tub and shower drains to collect these common clog culprits before they go down the drain. Dispose of collected debris after each use. For sinks, use an inexpensive foam sink strainer when washing hair or cleaning produce. Tip: Pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain weekly to dissolve built-up grease and keep water flowing freely.
5. Know When to Call a Professional
While some plumbing problems are DIY-friendly, it’s important to know when to call in a professional. Leaks, flooded basements, no hot water, and burst pipes all require a plumber’s expertise. For new installations or replacements, always rely on a licensed pro. Attempting complicated plumbing projects as a novice could result in injury or very expensive repairs if something goes wrong. Your local plumber has specialized tools, materials and skills. Don’t be afraid to call Plumbing Works for routine maintenance or plumbing emergencies.
Preventing Clogged Drains
Clogged drains are one of the most disruptive plumbing problems, often resulting in dirty standing water and foul odours. Take steps to prevent clogs before they happen:
- Install drain screens to catch hair and debris before it goes down the drain. Dispose regularly.
- Avoid pouring fats, oils and grease down the sink. These sticky substances coat pipes and collect debris.
- Limit the use of garbage disposal to prevent the accumulation of solids that can clog pipes. Compost food waste instead when possible.
- Use a kettle of boiling water weekly to remove buildup and keep drains clear.
Signs You Need a Professional Plumber
While some plumbing repairs are DIY-friendly, many issues require a professional’s expertise. Call a plumber for:
- Leaking pipes, faucets or valves that require new washers or seals
- Low or no hot water due to problems with your water heater
- Clogged drains that do not clear with a plunger, auger or drain cleaner
- A main sewer line clog or backup
- Burst pipes or flooding issues
- A complete re-pipe or replacement of old plumbing lines
- New installations like garbage disposals, water heaters, faucets and toilets
Frequently Asked Questions
What plumbing maintenance should I do annually?
Schedule annual inspections of your water heater, main shut-off valve and all fixtures. Flush water heaters to remove sediment. Have sewer lines video inspected for cracks or obstructions. Change old supply hoses. Deep clean drains before the holidays.
How can I save water at home?
Install low-flow faucets and showerheads. Fix any leaky faucets promptly. Run full loads in the dishwasher. Shorten shower times. Turn the water off when brushing your teeth or shaving. Reduce unnecessary toilet flushing. Consider installing a rain barrel.
What causes low water pressure?
Mineral deposits in faucet aerators, old galvanized pipes, partially closed valves, issues with your main water line, and problems with the home’s water pressure regulator are common causes. Call a plumber for diagnosis and repairs.
How do I unclog a kitchen sink?
Try a plunger first. Fill the second basin with water to cover the drain opening completely. Rapidly plunge up and down 10-15 times to clear the clog. Use a sink auger if the water doesn’t drain. For deeper clogs, disassemble the P-trap under the sink to inspect and remove debris. Avoid harsh chemical drain cleaners.
When should I replace my water heater?
Most tank water heaters last 8-12 years. Signs it’s time to replace your unit include rust, leaks, rumbling noises, longer recovery times, and unexpected temperature fluctuations. Schedule an inspection if your heater is over 10 years old. New models are more energy efficient.
Why does my toilet run constantly?
A constantly running toilet can waste thousands of gallons of water monthly. This issue is often caused by a poor flapper seal not closing completely after flushing. Try replacing the flapper seal first. If that doesn’t work, the tank lever, float switch, or inlet valve might need replacement.
Should I use a water softener?
Water softeners are beneficial if you have hard water mineral deposits on plumbing and fixtures. Soft water feels silkier on skin and hair and improves lathering. However, softened water isn’t recommended for drinking or watering plants. Consider getting your water tested before deciding on a softener system.
So there you have it – five essential plumbing tips to keep your home’s water and drainage systems running smoothly. Following this preventative maintenance advice can help homeowners avoid costly plumbing headaches down the road. Remember to call the expert plumbers at Plumbing Works if you need assistance maintaining your plumbing or correcting any issues.
This article was originally published on Plumbing Works