Your home’s plumbing is an intricate network that provides you with easy access to clean, fresh water. It’s also an area that many homeowners take for granted until something goes wrong with it.
While calling a plumber is always the best option when it comes to serious plumbing problems, you can do some things yourself to prevent and solve minor leaks and clogs. Here are 8 Easy Plumbing Tips Every Homeowner Needs to Know.
1. Keep Your Drains Clean
The plumbing system in your home is something that can easily be taken for granted. It brings in fresh water, heats it up for washing and sanitary use and carries away waste and debris. But the delicate balance of this complex system is easily disturbed by clogs, leaks and other problems. If you want to check out your plumbing system, you can ask plumbersjhb and other known plumbers who can really help you effectively.
One of the best ways to avoid these issues is to keep your drains clean and clear. Avoid pouring cooking grease down the drain, and be sure to collect coffee grounds and hair from the sink and shower and dispose of them in a trash can or compost bin.
It’s also important to check your home’s drains regularly for signs of clogs, like slow-draining sinks and foul smells. While it may be tempting to reach for a bottle of chemical drain cleaner, these products can actually damage your pipes. Try a natural drain cleaning solution like baking soda and vinegar instead! Alternatively, flush your drains once or twice a year with table salt. This will create a fizzing action that helps to break down and dissolve hair, soap scum, and other gunk in the drain.
2. Keep Your Water Heater in Good Working Order
New homeowners often know where the main shut-off valve is in their home, but it’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the location of the water heater’s drain valve. This will allow you to quickly and easily turn off the flow of water to your tank if needed.
Knowing how to do basic maintenance on your water heater will help keep it in great condition and prevent costly repairs. A few annual tasks, such as testing the pressure relief valve (which is designed to release steam and reduce water pressure if the heater overheats) can go a long way toward keeping your system working well.
To test your pressure relief valve, simply turn off the power to your water heater and open a hot-water faucet in a bathtub or sink that can handle the flow of hot water. Then, attach a garden hose to the water heater’s drain valve and direct it into a bucket or other container that can handle the hot water being released. Be sure to use caution, though!
3. Keep Your Pipes Clean
Your home’s plumbing is an intricate system that brings in fresh water, heats it up for washing and distribution and removes waste. It’s easy to take this system for granted, until something goes wrong with it.
Fortunately, many plumbing problems are preventable with some basic knowledge and regular maintenance. These plumbing tips will help homeowners avoid bigger issues and minimize damage from minor ones.
For example, it’s best to only flush toilet paper and human waste down your drains. Putting things like sanitary items, diapers and even those “flushable” wipes down your pipes can cause major clogs that can lead to costly repairs and replacements.
Another important tip is to regularly run hot water down your drains (vinegar can help too). This helps to remove any leftover food, grease or solids that can otherwise build up in your pipes.
In addition, make sure to never use a metal hanger or screw with a copper pipe, as this can cause corrosion. Lastly, remember to only tighten fittings and connections by hand, as over-tightening can break bolts and crack pipes.
4. Install a Water Filter
Every drop of water that passes through your pipes has the potential to pick up anything it encounters, including microorganisms and other contaminants. This can happen whether the water is coming from a public system or your own well. Water filters help prevent contaminant buildup and keep your drinking and bathing water safe. CR’s tests show that faucet-mounted filters — especially those with an aerator — are less likely to clog than pitcher and countertop models. And they’re easier to install, making them a good choice for renters who may not have their landlord’s permission to perform more significant modifications.
5. Install a Backflow Prevention Device
Water backflow can introduce dangerous chemicals, toxins, or pollutants into your drinking supply. Backflow prevention devices ensure that the water flows in one direction, and protect your home and family from backflow contamination.
Backflow preventers are required anywhere potable and non-potable water lines connect. If you notice discoloration, sulfuric smells or a bad taste in your water, this is an indicator that your backflow device needs to be inspected.
There are several different types of backflow preventers, and it is important to understand how they work. Some backflow preventers are designed to work with gravity, while others require a pressure change or a check valve to operate.
The most common type of backflow preventer uses force-closed spring-loaded check modules. These are great for low health hazard installations, but they are not ideal for high-pressure applications. These devices are also vulnerable to hydraulic shock, which can damage the internal components of the backflow preventer. In addition, this type of backflow preventer can be prone to debris buildup, which can lead to failure or lack of performance.
6. Install a Garbage Disposal
A garbage disposal is a handy kitchen gadget that shreds food waste into small enough pieces—usually less than 2 mm in diameter—to pass through plumbing. A disposer will also help to keep your drains clean by preventing the build-up of grease, oil, and fats, which can otherwise congeal and cause major drain clogs.
Installing a new disposal is usually a simple procedure. Start by shutting off the power to the sink and disconnecting your water shut-off valve (under the sink). Then remove the old disposal by hand or using a wrench. It’s a good idea to place a bucket or pan underneath the sink to catch any stray water or debris that may fall as you take it apart.
Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and follow them carefully to ensure a safe and successful installation. And if you’re not comfortable working under the sink, consider hiring a professional. You’ll be glad you did! And don’t forget to put a towel over the drain and weigh it down with something heavy as you work. This will prevent the plumbers putty from leaking out and possibly contaminating your sink and home.
7. Install a Water Softener
If you have hard water, a home water softener is worth the investment. Softer, cleaner laundry, less damage to hot water heaters and dishwashers and smoother skin are just some of the perks of this handy appliance.
Most water softeners consist of two tanks: a mineral tank that houses plastic resin beads that attract hard minerals through an ion-attraction process, and a brine tank for the sodium or potassium chloride solution that periodically recharges the resin. To install the water softener, first find a flat location that’s accessible to both an electrical outlet for power and a drain for water discharge.
Next, shut off the main water supply and drain the existing water line by opening a sink faucet until air bubbles stop flowing. You’ll also need to disconnect your washing machine hoses, basement sink faucets or hose bibs from the water softener, as these won’t be used anymore. Most softeners ship with tubing and hose clamps for connecting the system to your home’s water lines. Finally, locate a spot for the bypass valve (included with the softener) and a drain tube.