DIY Tips to keep your home plumbing in tip top shape
It is often said that those who rent are “flushing their money down the toilet”, but homeowners are also capable of whisking dollars down the drain by skimping on scheduled maintenance in their home. Sometimes keeping up with all the to-do’s around the property can feel like a full-time job, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to your plumbing system.
Plumbing repair bills can easily climb up into the thousands when there is extensive damage, so it just makes sense to keep an eye on your system and take small measures now to avoid big issues down the road.
Budget Plumbing Owner Tom Pollard put together a line-by-line checklist to help you keep the plumber away. This may seem counter-intuitive for a plumbing company, but with all the money you’ll save by averting a plumbing disaster you could hire him to help you build your dream bathroom!
Tips for Keeping The Plumber Away:
- Check for signs of leaks in exposed pipes (small puddles, watermarks) where pipes run through the walls or the foundation.
- Take off your showerhead to check for any grime that might have collected inside. This is often a quick fix for low water pressure.
- Speaking of water pressure, you should test your water pressure in sinks and faucets. If you notice a significant drop in pressure this could be a sign that something is wrong with your water line.
- Turn on all of the faucets in your home and check the base of the valve and/or handle for water coming out.
- Watch out for signs of corrosion. Rusty pipes can cause leaks and create problems with your pipe connections. Copper and brass corrosion is green, but look for yellow/orange stains on steel.
- Check bathroom tile work for loose tiles. Loose tiles are often a sign of water leakage. Similarly, check the ceiling below bathrooms and kitchens for water stains.
- Monitor sink, shower and tub drain for drainage speed. Slow drainage often means that there is a clog in the drain or perhaps a blockage in the vent. Bubbles and gurgling are also signs of vent problems.
- The toilet is a fixture that often needs its part replaced. Check each toilet to see that it is flushing correctly and that there are no broken, rusty, or missing parts. Also, be sure to check for water around the base of the porcelain, and listen to see that the water stops running once the tank is full. Push gently on your toilets to see if they wiggle.
- Drop a few drops of food coloring into the back tank of your toilet, if the bowl starts to change color, you could have a problem with your flapper.
- Check all sink, toilet, shower, and tub caulking. Loose caulking is a cheap and easy fix, but damage to your floorboards is not!
- Water heaters should be drained at least once a year to remove sediment.
- Revise your washing machine hoses for leaks. These hoses are under a lot of pressure and a burst hose can cause a lot of water damage in your home.
“You should run through this list at least once per year, but every six months would be better,” says Plumber Tom, contractor/owner of Budget Plumbing in Greenville, South Carolina. Now that you’ve gone through the checklist, here is a list of best practices to help you avoid plumbing troubles:
- Grease, fats and cooking oils should never be poured down the drain!
- Be sure to run cold water through your garbage disposal for a good 15 seconds after you use it. This will clear the drain of food chunks. Similarly, be smart about what you toss into the disposal: avoid skin, bones, banana peels, pits, seeds, and anything hard or fibrous.
- Here is a list of everything that should be flushed down the toilet: toilet paper and anything that comes out of your body. Everything else should go in the wastebasket.
- Throw away a toilet brush with exposed metal. The metal can scratch your bowl.
- Make sure that every bath drain has a strainer to catch hair and soap, and clean these strainers regularly.
- Soak your showerhead in vinegar to remove mineral deposits.
This may seem like a long list of things to cram into your already busy schedule, but you’ll be much better off in the long haul if you take the time to nip plumbing problems in the bud.
By M.-J. Taylor
M.-J. Taylor writes on home improvement projects for clients such as Tom Pollard of Budget Plumbing. When she’s not writing she enjoys the outdoors and likes to read.