Whether you own (or rent) a home in Boston, plumbing may not enter your thoughts much until you have a problem. Then, solving it might be the only thing on your mind! Even though plumbing codes have evolved over time to address the most significant concerns, most changes apply to new construction. The plumbing in your home might not reflect code updates. In fact, your pipes might be downright old.
By themselves, old pipes aren’t necessarily bad, but they can be the source of some significant complications when plumbing problems arise. Configurations and materials that may have been allowed under old plumbing codes may still act as a “gotcha” when a problem crops up. Here are a few tips for spotting and minimizing damage in your plumbing system.
First and foremost, know where your main freshwater shutoff is. If you live in a home, you’ll probably find this rather large valve very close to the water meter. Test it periodically to make sure it hasn’t seized up. If you can’t turn this valve easily, call a professional to evaluate it. It’s much better to replace this valve than it is to find that you can’t turn it when you need to.
If you live in a rental unit and you cannot find your water shutoff, ask the landlord where this valve is. If the shutoff for your apartment is in another unit, or in a locked area, ask your landlord to install a shutoff that you can access in an emergency. If he or she turns you down, make sure your renter’s insurance covers water damage to your personal property.
Know where all of the shutoffs are for each water-consuming fixture and test them for proper operation. That will include your sinks, toilets, showers, dishwasher, refrigeration equipment, hot water heater, boiler, laundry equipment, and all outdoor faucets and sprinklers. If you don’t have shutoffs that control these devices individually, you should. These shutoffs could save a lot of damage and time, by helping you isolate problem plumbing without having to shut down the entire system.
In my next entry, I’ll talk about how to deal with and hopefully prevent problems at the other end of your plumbing system – the drains. In the mean time, if you have a plumbing emergency, you can call Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating around the clock. We have professional plumbers on call to help with any kind of water or heating and cooling emergency. Contact us at (617) 288-2911 anytime.