If you live in the United States, your home has a modern plumbing system, thanks to regularly updated plumbing codes and laws. Without proper maintenance, however, a home’s plumbing system can deteriorate. That can put your family and your home at risk. Here are five tips to keep your plumbing fixtures in good working order. These can also help you spot problems while they’re still manageable.
Keep your drains clear.
Every plumbing system has two sides: the clean side and the dirty side. Drains fall on the “dirty” side of the system, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep them clean. One of the best ways to keep your drains clean is to monitor what goes down them. Soap, hair, food particles, grease and other biological agents can combine to form clogs. Preventing hair, grease and food from making their way down the drains can go a long way toward preventing clogs. If your drains do begin to run slowly, snake them out manually to remove any accumulations. Avoid using chemical drain cleaners. Instead, try an enzymatic drain cleaner like Bio-Clean to keep the drains flowing freely. Some people also swear by a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to kill organic material that may grow in your drains.
At least once every 5 years, have your sewer connection videoscoped. This can help you discover breaks and tree root invasions in your sewer line. While no one wants to see a break in their sewer connection, taking care of the problem outside beats having a sewage backup inside!
Know and test your plumbing system.
On the clean side of things, inspect your pipes annually. Test the local shut-off valves to make sure they still work. Shut-off valves are notoriously cheap, so giving them a little regular exercise will help keep them in good shape. If a shut-off valve self-retired while you weren’t looking, replace it immediately. If you can’t count on it to work in an emergency, it’s not of much use! Also test your main shut-off valve. While this valve is unlikely to break, moving it periodically can help ensure that you won’t need to manhandle it to shut off the water supply in an emergency.
Flush your water heater.
Debris, scale and rust particles can build up at the base of your water heater. Most water heaters have a drain near the bottom that you can open for maintenance. The debris settles at the bottom of the tank, so opening the tank and tapping off a gallon or two can help remove this sediment. Some manufacturers recommend this procedure monthly. Others say it’s ok to do it annually. However often you do it, do it. Also, you can extend the life of your water heater by having the sacrificial anode replaced on schedule. If you don’t, once the sacrificial anode is gone, your tank will begin to rust.
Don’t ignore signs of trouble. Plumbing problems rarely arrive completely unannounced. If you see signs of plumbing problems, act. Symptoms of trouble can include leaks, smells, drips, reduced or increased water flow and damage to surrounding walls, floors and ceilings.
Put a trash can next to your toilet.
You might wonder how putting a trash can next to your toilet can possibly help your plumbing. Some people use their toilets as a substitute trash can. They flush just about everything from cigarette butts to grease down the loo. That’s an excellent recipe for big plumbing problems! The only things that should ever go down your toilet are human waste and toilet paper. Throw everything else – including Kleenex, diapers, tampons, sanitary pads, cigarette butts, “disposable” or “dissolvable” wipes, paper towels and whatever else you can think of – in the handy trash can you’ve placed next to the toilet.
When you run into a plumbing problem that you want help with, contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We specialize in both residential and commercial plumbing in the Boston area.
Photo Credit: Bill Wilson, via Flickr