Whether you’ve lived in your current home for years or you’ve just moved into your first house ever, there are some things about a home’s plumbing system that every homeowner should know.
Although there is no way to completely avoid a plumbing emergency, below are 5 basic plumbing tips that can help keep your plumbing system running efficiently and lower your chances of having one occur.
Tip #1: Learn where your main water shutoff valve is located for your home. When you do have a water emergency, getting the water supply turned off is critical because running water can cause extensive damage and it can happen very quickly.
Keep in mind that where the shutoff valve is located will depend on the arrangement of your house, but most of the time it is usually located close to where the main water supply comes into your home.
If you have a basement or crawl space, it is normally located on an outer wall near the front of the house, but if your house sits on a slab, you could also find it near the water heater or even out in the garage.
Most of the time, the shutoff valve to a house can be turned off by hand. Since an emergency could occur while you are away, make sure that family members know where it is and understand how to turn it off should the need (or water) ever arise (pun intended)?
Tip #2 Give your water heater a yearly checkup. You may not know it, but over time, sediment can form in the bottom of your water heater. If your water source comes from a well, this sediment is often composed of sand and other debris that comes up through the waterlines, or if your water comes through a municipal source, it can be caused by minerals, such as calcium carbonate that are drawn out of the water and later settle at the bottom when the water is heated at higher temperatures.
Since the sediment works as an agent that corrodes the water heater, thereby making it work less efficiently, draining several gallons from the water heater tank can help slow down this process and may even prevent it from shortening the life of the water tank.
While you are inspecting your water heater, it is also a good time to check the date on your water heater. If your water heater is over 12 to 15 years old, it’s a good candidate to be replaced. If you see signs of rust, especially around the bottom of the water heater tank, this could be a sign of an impending problem and it’s best to call an experienced licensed plumber to take look at it as soon as you can.
Pro Tip: Check out some of the new tankless water heaters on the market. Not familiar, with what a tankless water heater is? We’ve got you covered! Learn about them by reading this article.
Tip #3 Check your wash machine hoses for signs of wear and tear. When it comes to the water hoses on your wash machine, out of sight doesn’t just mean out of mind. It could mean big trouble because if your appliance hoses are old and worn, and you haven’t observed them recently, they may be split and leaking.
When a hose develops a big split, you might notice it right away because water will be everywhere, but if it is a small leak it could go unnoticed for weeks, months or even a couple of years, all the while slowly ruining your drywall or your floor.
As you check the hoses on your wash machine, pay attention to the cutoff valve, especially if you actually have to change out a hose. Since these valves aren’t turned on and off very much, you may find you have a small leak develop after you install a new hose.
Tip #4 Save money by stopping annoying drips in the sink. It may not seem like that big of a deal if the faucet in your sink constantly has a small water drip, but sooner or later that drip will become a bigger one, and even as a small drip, it can still cost you a lot of money on your water bill if you don’t put a stop to it.
These types of drips generally are caused because the rubber washer in the sink’s faucet has deteriorated and is no longer creating a good seal. Replacing the old rubber washer with a new one not only is a simple repair that will save you money, but it also helps conserve water which is good for the environment.
Tip #5 Turn your shut-off valves on and off occasionally. Although we occasionally still run across a toilet or sink fixture that doesn’t have a shut-off valve, most newer homes will have a cut-off located in very close proximity to the fixture’s plumbing.
Unfortunately, since a shut-off valve is usually only used when you have a plumbing emergency or need to turn the water to the toilet or sink off for some reason, the knobs on shut-off valves can become extremely hard to turn.
This means that if you do have a plumbing emergency where the water needs to be shut off immediately, you could find yourself with a flood of water and no way to quickly stop it.
By occasionally turning them off and back on again, you can keep them from sticking. While you’re doing that, it’s also a good time to inspect the pipes under your sink and around your toilet to ensure no leaks have developed.
We realize that it is kind of a hassle to have to keep up with when you should do all of this, so if you would like to make your to-do list a little shorter, we do offer a three-tiered maintenance plan that covers these types of inspections that can keep plumbing issues from developing.