The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Home's Plumbing in Good Shape

The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Home's Plumbing in Good Shape

When your plumbing system is in working order, you likely won’t think much about it. While this is certainly an ideal circumstance, in order to get there you need to devote the time, energy, and sometimes money into maintaining your plumbing system. That’s where routine maintenance comes in. Not only will providing your home with the proper maintenance lessen the risk of potential damage, it will also ensure that the professionals will already understand the ins and outs of the system in the event of an emergency. Read on for a comprehensive list of steps that homeowners can take to maintain proper care of their home plumbing systems.

Do-it-Yourself Plumbing Tips

We'll begin with some of the simpler jobs—tasks that can be added to your monthly or bi-annual maintenance list and carried out as needed. That being said, while should you encounter any difficulty while completing these tasks, don't hesitate to reach out for professional help. It's far better to do so early on, as improper maintenance could lead to a larger and potentially more costly problem.

Checking for Leaks

To check for leaks, you'll need to know the location of your water meter. If you don't already know where it is, call the water company and ask them to pinpoint the location for you.

Before beginning, make absolutely certain that no water is running, either inside or outside of the house. Once you're sure, check the meter to see if there's any movement. If the dial is rotating, it indicates that water is moving somewhere within the system, which probably means that there is indeed a leak.

Alternatively, take note of the numerical readout on the meter, then return and check it again in an hour or two. If the numbers have changed, that could also indicate a leak. In either case, contact your local plumber for advice on how to address the issue.

Clearing the Drains

This is an easy and proactive task that can be performed regularly, using items you likely already have in your home.

First, heat a saucepan of water on the stove. Pour a generous measure of this hot water down the drain, and follow it with about 1/2 cup of baking soda. Next, mix a cup of white vinegar with an equal amount of the hot water, and pour that down the drain also. The chemical reaction that results will take care of any potential clogs. After a few minutes, rinse the drain with warm water.

Using home remedies such this will reduce or fully remove a clog that is easy to remove, but if you have any further issues, consider using a drain snake. Sometimes clogs can be in your sewer lines or can be harder to remove without professional equipment—in this case, be sure to reach out to a professional.

Checking the Fittings

Plumbing fittings don't have to be wrenched tightly together, as long as they're secure enough to prevent leaks. Make sure they're fitted properly, with no damage to the interior seals. To keep the components from becoming too tight, apply silicone plumber's tape as you screw them back into place.

When To Call a Professional

While the maintenance or fixes listed above can be easily performed by the average homeowner, there are times when it's best to be sure that the job is done by the professionals. Here are a few of the services that are routinely offered by a plumbing company.

Automatic Shutoff Valve

These devices automatically turn off the water supply if a leak is detected and are invaluable when it comes to saving water and money. Another plus? They can be installed anywhere on the property, so they don't have to detract from the décor.

However, be wary with your installation: these devices are prone to false alarms when they're installed in damp places—such as beneath the kitchen sink or in the basement. That's why it's best to have the job done by someone with expertise to advise you on the best spot to install the device.

Backflow Protection

If the pressure in the water tank is lower than that of the plumbing system, there's a risk of backflow, which can contaminate the water supply. Homeowners who rely on their systems for potable water should invest in backflow protection, to ensure that their supply stays clean and free of dangerous contaminants.

Garbage Disposal

While actively putting garbage down the drain might seem counterproductive, a garbage disposal can actually help to extend the life of your pipes, all while cutting down on waste and energy. How is this possible?

The average person tends to rinse food waste into the sink, even if they don’t mean to. Coffee grounds are the most common culprit (covered in the next section), but leafy greens and other small bits of residue often end up in the pipes as well. The installation of a garbage disposal will keep the waste from ending up in the wrong places and clogging the drain.

Even if you already have a disposal in place, there is protocol that should be followed. Don't attempt to grind anything that's exceptionally hard or tough, like animal bones from stock. Celery, too, can cause problems on account of its fibrous stalks. Starchy leftovers, like rice, potatoes, and pasta, will all contribute to a goopy mess later on. Finally, resist the urge to dump grease down the disposal. Use a heatproof receptacle that can be disposed of at the local transfer station instead.

Biggest Plumbing Myths

Putting coffee grounds and eggshells through the garbage disposal is helpful to the system.

Rinsing coffee grounds down the sink—even when there's a disposal in place—creates a sludgy buildup that's bound to clog the drain entirely at some point. Dispose of them by first allowing them to cool, then adding them to the usual waste receptacle or compost bin.

In the past, eggshells have been touted as an all-natural blade sharpener for garbage disposals. However, the inner membrane can cause problems if it becomes stuck to the sides of the unit. In the end, the risks outweigh the benefits. It's best to keep your sink free of shells of any kind.

It's fine to flush food waste down the toilet.

While it might be tempting to dispose of leak-prone leftovers by dumping them in the toilet bowl, resist this impulse. Grease and other sauce-like ingredients can cause major clogging issues over time. As a refresher, here's a short list of other things that should never be flushed down the pipes:

  • Cotton of any kind

  • Sanitary napkins

  • Baby wipes

  • Paper towels

You can hold off on repairing a leaky faucet.

The slight drip might not be all that annoying at first, but it's best to take care of it the moment you notice a problem. A leak represents more than just a waste of water—although that should certainly be a concern as well. The uninterrupted flow can also cause your plumbing fixtures to deteriorate, depending on the location and severity of the leak. If one of your faucets is leaking, call a plumber to set up an appointment as soon as possible.

The bottom line? If you're comfortable performing a task on your own, feel free to do so. When you find yourself in deeper water (not literally, we hope!) it's time to call in the pros. Following the steps we've outlined should keep your home's plumbing system on an even keel.

For any problems you can’t fix yourself and for the solutions and installations that require a professional, contact Allstar Plumbing, Heating, & Air. Our team can help in the event of repairs, replacements, installations, or routine maintenance. We take pride in what we do and only hire those with a passion for helping others. We’re Allstars for a reason!

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