Spring Plumbing Maintenance Tips
While the weather is cold and wet right now, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to change again in a few weeks. With Spring around the corner, the warmer weather makes for a good opportunity to clean out the house as well as check things over for maintenance. The home plumbing is a key aspect many people forget about since it always seems to work, until it doesn’t. And that’s often way to late because failure with plumbing typically means a damaging leak or a drainage failure and related backup.
Spring cleaning for your home’s plumbing is just as vital as maintaining the HVAC system and the structure. Finding issues or problems early in their presence can literally save thousands of dollars in avoided repair costs, and it can prolong the life of a home plumbing system as well. Most home systems are built with quality materials and design, but after 10 years even quality parts and assemblies start to manifest issues. So for your next Spring checkup which is just around the corner in a few weeks, here’s a plumber’s checklist for your home to go through which will cover a lot of the important areas to watch:
- Examine the Fixtures – The handles and faucets on all water-releasing equipment should be given a once-over. What you are looking for is signs of leaks when the faucet is shut off, signs of mold or leak stains, and that the faucet works properly. It also doesn’t hurt to re-caulk the unit seal if it’s worn and old. You will find the fixtures in the bathroom sinks, showers, toilets and the kitchen but don’t forget the outside garden handles too. Worst case scenario, you will find a crack or slow leak that can be easily fixed preventing a later disaster.
- Also, check that the fixture handles are moving freely and without resistance. Over time, handle assemblies wear down and begin to grow stiff, especially with mineral-heavy hard water. A serious case can actually cause something to break. If a faucet is becoming overly stiff and hard to use, it may be time to replace it altogether.
- Clear the Drains – Hair, food, and washed-off material are the three big contributors to plugged drains. And many times the plug up is an aggregate of material caught over time. Every drain should be checked that water goes down quickly and doesn’t rise back up with extended flow. A real simple easy tool to use which only costs a few dollars and does no pipe damage is a Drain Ripper. This simple long plastic strip with a handle is inserted and it saws up any soft debris like hair in the U-bend of a common home drain. Water flows better and you prevent an eventual plug up.
- Check the Toilets – Toilet basins don’t just flow water, they contain it in the tank above as well. Over time, toilet ceramic can crack or the seals of feed pipes can age. Both start small leaks that get bigger and create surface area damage. A quick way to see if a seal needs repair is to put food dye in the water in the tank. If the bowl water changes color without flushing or you find dye stains on the floor after an hour or so, there’s a leak on one of the seals.
- Buy and Place Strainers on All Drains – Drainage pipes work best when only waste water goes down the drain. And strainers are cheap, effective prevention method of stopping blockage material from entering the pipe in the first place. Heavy-use sinks like the kitchen or the laundry cleaning sink should always have strainers in the sink bottom as these units see the most of material getting washed down the pipe.
- Break Down Mineral Deposits – Particularly for those who have hard water, mineral deposits can build up quickly, plugging up fine mesh faucet heads and shower heads. Soaking in a bag of vinegar tied around the faucet head has been a regular natural way of breaking down deposits and works very well in increasing water flow.
- Proactive Management of the Water Heater- Sitting in the garage many times, water heaters work for years and years and then suddenly break, often due to no maintenance being applied. First off, the temperature should be sent no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Secondly, the heater should be flushed and drained annually to remove sediment that deposits at the bottom of the tank over time. The apparatus should also be inspected for any leaks at the top or bottom of the tank as they are signs of a growing weakness and eventual failure.
- Sump Pump Check – For homes with a basement, the sump pump should be tested regularly with a few buckets of water to make sure it works. There should be an immediate response and pump out of the drainage. If not, the pump should be checked.
Finally, don’t forget the outside of the house. Look for broken landscape plumbing and proper drainage from rain spouts and AC spigots. All of these areas can be fixed quickly for low cost if caught early. To find out more, call a plumber to learn what to check.