Prevent Plumbing DisastersIt would be nice to buy a home and then not have to worry about it or do anything to it! But our homes have maintenance requirements – which may change with the season. And depending on your landscaping capabilities, you may want the exterior (those areas visible to the naked eye) to be beautiful, or maybe simply presentable. So when we move into a home, we fix problems, redecorate, replace damaged areas, and update building materials as necessary. 

But the interior of your home – the framing, electrical wiring, and plumbing – can easily be overlooked until a problem arises. These may also be the areas of the house we are less capable of maintaining!

Is plumbing maintenance really that important?

Leaky plumbing resulting from damage to pipes and fixtures contributes to Americans wasting roughly 1 trillion gallons of water each year. Something as common as a continuously running toilet can waste between 1,000 and 4,000 gallons of water per day. But that’s not all. Water damage can be expensive to repair, depending on the class and extent of damage to your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):

  • Water damage is the second most common home insurance claim (wind/hail is first).
  • 10% of homes with leaks waste 90 gallons or more of water daily.
  • Water wasted from typical leaks in the home equates to 80,000 servings of water.
  • Fixing leaks would save a homeowner about $700 per year.

How can I routinely care for my plumbing system?

Although not all water restoration projects and water-related insurance claims are due to plumbing failures, a significant amount of them are. Here are some preventative plumbing maintenance tips that you can apply right away.

  • Be careful what you flush down the toilet – only flush toilet paper and sewage.
  • Check toilets for rotting seals, moisture around the base, and constant refilling.
  • Repair leaking faucets and shower heads – any small leak – immediately.
  • Check your washing machine, refrigerator, and water heater for leaks.
  • Use the garbage disposal only for fruit scraps & pits, vegetable scraps, small bones, and ice.
  • Keep an eye out for slow drains – a blockage could be building up in the pipes. 
  • Schedule a sewer line maintenance check by a plumber once each year.
  • Check your water pressure and water bill regularly.
  • Shut off your exterior fixtures seasonally by closing the feed valve inside your home.
  • Remove hoses from outdoor spigots in the winter.
  • If you have an irrigation system, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for seasonal use.
  • Install mesh drain covers in your sinks, showers, and bathtubs.
  • Hire a plumber to snake clogged drains; chemical DIY products can erode pipes.
  • Never pour grease down your drains.
  • Keep the water pressure within recommended limits to reduce stress on pipes.
  • Install a water softening system to reduce a high mineral content.
  • Know where your main water shut-off valve is in case of a plumbing emergency.
  • Add insulation to pipes in the cold parts of your home.
  • Never use an exposed pipe to hang objects from, like damp laundry.

Make it a priority to keep your plumbing “healthy.” Most of these tips cost very little in terms of time and money and the investment is well worth the cost. Maintaining your plumbing system will ensure that you will enjoy it for its maximum useful life. And you will save potentially thousands of dollars in repairs caused by plumbing failures.