Plumbing is something we rarely think about until something goes wrong. And when it does, living for even just a day without water uproots our entire routine. Fortunately, there are simple preventative measures you can take to ensure your plumbing is in proper working order.
1. Regularly clear out your drains.
One of the most common plumbing problems is clogged drains. Backed up drains not only impede the effectiveness of your plumbing, but they can also emit foul smells and cause larger problems down the road. Luckily, this is one of the easiest plumbing issues to manage.
First, prevent clogs by placing drain strainers in your sinks and tubs. These inexpensive devices prevent large debris from falling into the pipes. Also pay attention to what you flush down the toilet: toilet paper is the only non-human made product that should ever be flushed.
Next, clean out your pipes with a drain cleaner and a plumbing snake. Even if a strainer is used over every drain, small objects can slip through and accumulate. It is also helpful to periodically run water into infrequently used drains. This will help eliminate odors and fill up the trap—the bend in the plumbing that prevents harmful gases from entering your home.
2. Find and fix leaks.
No matter how small or inconsistent a leak is, it should be fixed right away to avoid further damage to both your plumbing and your home. Leaks will usually be found coming from your faucets, showers, water heater, and toilets. It's fairly easy to spot a leaky faucet or shower, but the other two may be more difficult.
- Leaky Toilets. A running toilet is not only noisy, but can also cost you a lot of money on wasted water. Running toilets are generally easy to spot, but knowing where the issue steams from is trickier. Common causes for a running toilet are a malfunctioning refill tube or ball cock. Your toilet could also be leaking even if you don't hear it. To test for leaks, periodically add a few drops of food coloring to the upper tank and wait a few minutes. If the bowl has also changed color, then there is a leak somewhere.
- Leaky Water Heater. Regularly inspect the pipes around your water heater for unseen leaks. The flex lines, relief line, water heater nipples, and drain are most likely to malfunction. If any of these areas are damp, call a plumber, such as Lewis Plumbing, to fix them immediately and avoid further damage to the device.
3. Winterize outdoor plumbing.
It can be easy to forget about outdoor plumbing, but these pipes and faucets connect to your home plumbing system and, if left unattended, can cause major damage. Winterizing your outdoor pipes is essential in keeping your plumbing system operational. Before the weather gets cold, inspect for leaks—even a small amount of water can freeze and crack pipes—and add insulation to the faucets.
If you are unsure of what to do in any plumbing situation, it's best to call a professional plumber. It may seem like a lot of money now, but a plumbing problem can end up costing you thousands if left alone.