7 Handy Home Maintenance Tips to Prevent Plumbing Problems
Your plumbing system is one of the most crucial parts of your home as it works to supply water and take care of waste. This makes it essential that you pay careful attention and watch for any possible signs of a problem and also that you take steps to help avoid any issues. Plumbing repairs can be quite expensive, and plumbing issues also have the potential to cause serious water damage and other major problems. Luckily, most plumbing problems can be avoided with regular preventative maintenance, and here are some simple tips that can help you do just that.
1. Watch What You Put Down the Drain
The single biggest cause of most plumbing, sewer, and drain problems is putting things down the toilet or drain that you shouldn’t. Your sewer system is really only designed to handle human waste and toilet paper—that’s it. If you have a garbage disposal, you can also get away with putting some smaller bits of food down the drain as long as you use your disposal properly. Even then, you still shouldn’t see the disposal as another trash can and think it can handle anything.
Any type of fat, oil, or grease is the absolute worst thing for your plumbing and one of the main causes of clogged drains and pipes. These fatty substances will go down the drain as a sticky mass that can easily cling to the inside of your pipes and begin to collect any other solids that go down the drain. Diapers, cigarette butts, paper towels, wet wipes, feminine hygiene products, and other bulky solids should also be avoided as these can also easily get stuck inside your pipes and create a serious clog. Even so-called flushable wipes should never go down the drain, no matter what the manufacturer says.
2. Keep an Eye Out for Any Signs of a Leak
Leaks can cause serious damage to your home in a short amount of time, so you should always be on the lookout for any signs that could indicate you have a leak. This includes things like water spots or discoloration on your walls or ceilings. Black spots and moldy or musty odors are also good indicators of a leak. All of these issues can also be caused by a leak around your windows or in your ceiling, but either way, it is something you will want to have checked out as soon as possible.
You should also regularly check around all of your plumbing fixtures and appliances for standing water, soft spots in your flooring, or anything else that could indicate a leak. We recommend checking underneath your sinks and around all of your appliances at least once a month just to be safe. You should also watch out for any sudden spikes in your water bill since this will almost always indicate that there is a leak somewhere inside or outside your home.
3. Take Care of Clogs Immediately
If you ever notice that your drains are slower than normal or making bubbling or gurgling noises, you should immediately take steps to unclog the pipe. If not, the pipe may soon become completely clogged and create more serious issues. The easiest way to clear a clog is to use a plunger.
You can also often clear minor clogs simply by pouring baking soda and vinegar down the drain and then waiting around 15 minutes before flushing the drain with hot water. What you shouldn’t do is use drain cleaners all the time, as these contain harsh chemicals that can damage your plumbing. Using a drain cleaner every once in a while typically isn’t that big of an issue, but using it often can lead to you needing major repairs.
4. Run Water Down All of Your Drains Regularly
Underneath all of your drains is a piece of pipe known as a P-trap, which works to prevent noxious sewer gases from rising up through the drain. The trap has a U-shaped bend at the bottom that traps water to create a seal that prevents gases from back-drafting up through the pipe. If you don’t make sure to run water down your drains every so often, the P-trap can dry out and cause your drains to start to smell. For this reason, we always recommend opening up all of your plumbing fixtures for a few seconds every week or two to replenish the water inside the trap. This also works to flush out the stagnant water in the trap to prevent algae and bacteria from growing.
5. Always Use Drain Covers to Help Avoid Clogs
Most homes always use drain covers in their kitchen sink, but you really should have a cover on your shower, bathtub, and bathroom sink drains as well. Bathroom drains can quickly become filled with hair, which can easily lead to a serious clog and will also make the drain smell. Having a drain cover in your shower or bathtub is the easiest way to prevent clogs. As a side benefit, you will not need to clean the drain as often. If you shave, trim your beard, or pluck hair over the bathroom sink, you should definitely use a mesh cover over the drain as well.
6. Flush Your Water Heater Once or Twice a Year
Your water heater is a hugely important part of your plumbing system since, without it, you wouldn’t be able to bathe, wash dishes, do laundry, etc. All types of water heaters should be maintained and inspected by a professional every year. If you have a traditional water heater with a storage tank, you should also make sure to flush the tank once or twice a year. Flushing the tank gets rid of all of the sediment that builds up inside the unit and is the easiest way to avoid leaks, loss of efficiency, loud noises, and other common problems. It will also help to prevent the unit from failing prematurely, as sediment build-up is the main cause of most water heater issues.
7. Know When You Need Professional Help
There are some plumbing maintenance tasks and minor repairs that you can easily do on your own. Things like replacing a showerhead or tightening a leaky faucet, washing machine hose, or toilet water line are typically fairly easy. However, the vast majority of plumbing maintenance and repairs should always be left to a licensed plumber. In most situations, trying to fix your plumbing on your own will only make things worse and end up costing you more in the end than if you called a plumber in the first place.
Contact the Pros
If you need any plumbing repairs or other services, Environmental Heating & Air Solutions is here to help. Our licensed plumbers can take care of all of your maintenance needs and also inspect your full plumbing system to make sure everything is as it should be. Our team specializes in leak detection and a full range of water heater services, and we also offer heating, cooling, home automation, home insulation, and indoor air quality services to customers in Roseville, Benicia, and the surrounding areas. To schedule an appointment or if you have any questions, contact Environmental Heating & Air Solutions today.