Most people wash, flush, drink, and flip the faucet on and off throughout the day without a second thought. Plumbing works silently in the background until all of the sudden you have a leak in your living room and standing water in the basement. Without proper plumbing maintenance, you’re left with a huge mess and, ultimately a large bill.
Taking care of your home’s plumbing is essential to keeping the clean water flowing in and flushing your home’s waste out. You can save yourself time, trouble, and money by taking care of your plumbing system on a regular basis with plumbing maintenance from an expert plumbing contractor instead of waiting for disaster to strike.
Your home plumbing system makes up about 15% of your total home value. Maintaining your investment is essential to keeping your home and business in good working order.
What is Basic Maintenance for Plumbing?
Plumbing problems always seem to show up at the worst possible time. It’s Thanksgiving Day and your mother-in-law is in town, it’s your daughter’s wedding day, a family birthday party or the same night you go into labor. While no time is a good time for a plumbing problem, there are some basic plumbing maintenance tips that can help you catch plumbing problems before they turn into a big mess.
Keep an eye out for water leaks: A leaky faucet is more than annoying, it can be a sign of a much bigger problem brewing underneath the surface. Check for damp cabinets, rocking toilets or dripping refrigerators that all may be indicators that you need to take quick action before the problem gets worse.
Know how to respond to overflows: Nothing is worse than a sudden overflow from your toilet or tub with no way to stop your home from becoming a mucky swimming pool. Know where your home’s main shut-off valve for the water supply is. Keep a flashlight or any other necessary tools nearby and accessible so you can shut off the water quickly if necessary.
Shutting off appliances: In addition to locating and knowing how to shut off your home’s water supply, you should know how to disconnect the water from individual appliances. This can reduce potential damage when one appliance needs repair.
Know your pipe material: Do you know what material was used in construction of your pipes? If you don’t, ask your builder, neighbors, or have a plumber come check for you. If your home uses galvanized iron pipes, they can eventually rust and corrode, which should be replaced.
Repair problems early: Even a small drip leads to a buildup of moisture. Where there is moisture, it encourages mold and mildew, which lead to much bigger problems. Listen for drips, check for leaks, and pay attention to puddles so you can get them taken care of early.
Check faucets regularly: When you turn on each water faucet in your home, water should flow clearly, easily, and clean. Water shouldn’t be coming out of the handles or the valves. If it is, this is a sign of a repair that should be taken care of before it gets worse.
Clean your lint traps on your washing machine: This seems like a simple one, but it can cause big problems when it’s not handled promptly.
Each type of plumbing requires individual plumbing maintenance. Your home, sewer lines, water heaters, and commercial buildings each have unique plumbing maintenance needs. Understanding the basics of plumbing maintenance for each type of system is essential to taking care of your pipes in both your home and your business.
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Commercial Plumbing Maintenance
Having a regular plumbing maintenance plan can prevent clogged drains, burst pipes, backed up sewer lines. Commercial plumbing maintenance is required by law to keep you in compliance with local regulations for grease traps and backflow prevention. Consistent maintenance can also save you money by finding and repairing problems before they turn into plumbing emergencies. During a regular plumbing maintenance check for any commercial building, there are seven areas that should be examined:
Active Leaks: Leaks can begin small, without you even noticing. A thorough inspection looks for active leaks, water spots, increased moisture, or signs of mold/mildew and takes care of them early to protect your system.
Signs of Corrosion: Any signs of corrosion or collection of limescale may be an indication of old pipes that likely need to be replaced.
Water Pressure: The water pressure should be between 40-80psi in any commercial building. If it is too high, it can damage your equipment, while low water pressure is difficult to use. Maintaining adequate pressure is part of any regular plumbing maintenance checkup.
Valve Operation: Checking all safety and shut-off valves is a simple way to ensure they are working correctly. Broken valves be quickly and easily replaced at the time of testing.
Inspect Water Heater: The water heater is an important part of every commercial plumbing system. It needs to be checked for proper temperature, leaks, and to ensure all safety mechanisms are in place.
Check Drains: The drains throughout the building should be tested for their flow rate. Slow flow is often an indicator of a clog. Clearing these early ensures all of your lines are in working order without buildup.
Backflow Testing: Backflow testing is required by law to be inspected annually. This ensures the water in the system is not contaminated.
A consistent commercial plumbing maintenance plan reduces your future repair costs while improving your plumbing performance and utility efficiency.
Most of us prefer the “out of sight – out of mind” method for our sewer lines. However, if you want to keep sewage out of sight for the long term, it’s best to keep it well maintained. Regular preventative maintenance of your sewer lines ensures your system remains clean and free from damage over time. Annual plumbing maintenance also prevents future repairs that could be very costly.
Your sewer lines should be cleaned on a regular basis as well as an annual visual and interior camera inspection of all pipes to locate and remedy potential issues before they develop into serious problems.
Sometimes, sewer problems are completely unavoidable. However, there are some things you can do to prevent costly repairs and installations:
Remove trees planted anywhere near the sewer line.
Use grates on any yard drains with a fine drain screen to reduce mud accumulation in the sewer line.
Do not put grease or other non-biodegradable items down the sink.
Even if you have a disposal, put large food items like meat, onion peels, banana peels, corn husks, artichoke leaves, and any fibrous foods into the trash or compost, not the sink.
Don’t flush anything down the toilet other than human waste and toilet paper. Paper towels, facial tissues, toys and diapers are not flusher friendly.
Water Heater Maintenance
If you’ve ever suffered through an ice-cold shower, you understand the importance of maintaining your water heater. Like many common household appliances, a little plumbing maintenance can go a long way in extending the life of your unit. During a maintenance appointment, your plumber will do all or more of the following:
Drain the tank to collected sediment. This process reduces corrosion increasing efficiency.
Test the pressure-relief valve and install a new valve if necessary.
Check temperature gauge for accuracy and safety
One of the new trends in water heating is a tankless system. These systems do not store hot water for use, but rather heat the water as it is needed. While this system doesn’t require draining a tank, it should still be flushed annually to prevent buildup.
In between plumbing maintenance visits, there are some things you can do to extend the life of your water heater and keep it running properly:
Keep your water heater temperature setting at 120° F.
Flush out your water heater to remove any sediment.
For NEW units ONLY – you can test the water heater’s pressure release valve by lifting the lever and allowing it to snap back. If working properly, the valve should allow a burst of hot water into the drain pipe. Do not conduct this test on units that are more than five years old, doing so may cause a leak.
The main reason drains become clogged is because something is down there that shouldn’t be. This is either the result of something being accidentally flushed, or simply build up over time. Drains are an important component to your entire plumbing system. Keeping them clear and maintained can extend the life of your pipes, appliances, and plumbing fixtures. On a weekly basis, give your drains a checkup doing the following steps:
Test all sink and shower drains for speed and drainage, they should have a full swirl while the water goes down.
Check drains for bubbles that appear while draining, this is usually a sign of a clog.
If you don’t use the drain frequently, pour down a full gallon of water to fill the trap and prevent odor.
To prevent clogged drains in this room, never put grease or oils down the sink. This includes cooking oils and fats, such as butter. This is the number one cause of kitchen clogs. Over time, grease and fats will congeal in the pipes and block water flow. The second cause of kitchen clogs is the garbage disposal. While it is efficient and helpful, it’s not meant to eat everything you throw at it. Here are some kitchen plumbing maintenance tips to follow:
Always turn your water and disposal on before adding food and keep it running for at least 15 seconds after using the disposal to ensure all the food waste is flushed.
Never put fibrous or stringy food waste down the disposal. These include banana peels, celery, potato peels, and other foods that are difficult to grind up.
Run your dishwasher at night.
In the bathroom, the biggest culprit of clogs is using too much toilet paper or kids flushing toys down the toilet. These two problems can cause major damage to pipes and drains in the bathroom. Over time you may also get clogs from bathroom products, long hair, and skincare products. You can reduce clogs and even prevent damage by following these plumbing maintenance tips:
Install screens over bathroom drains to prevent hair from going down the drain.
Flush only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed.
Do not use “flushable” wipes.They do not break down causing major issues.
Wait about 10 minutes between showers to maintain proper water pressure and prevent unwanted stress on your system.
Avoid using chemical clog removal products; call a professional instead.
Schedule Regular Maintenance With a Local Plumber Today
Even with the best of intentions, you cannot prevent or control everything affecting your plumbing system. Whether it’s gravity, pressure, age, or time, your pipes and drains need plumbing maintenance and care provided by a professional on an annual basis.
Regular plumbing maintenance checks of your plumbing system with a licensed local plumber is the best way to catch small leaks and repairs before they turn into costly nightmares.
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