SPRING PLUMBING TIPS
“Spring cleaning” is a term many people are familiar with – that time of year when the weather is warming up and everyone starts to clean out and re-organize several areas of their household. However, many people overlook their plumbing and tend to focus on other spring cleaning tasks. The following spring plumbing tips will help to ensure your plumbing is consistently working in a safe and effective manner during the months ahead.
Now is the time to check and make sure your water heater is running correctly; After all, no one likes to take cold showers! The first step is to ensure your temperature settings are accurate. It is highly recommended that your water heater does not measure above 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Correct temperature settings will decrease the chances of scalding and reduce energy usage.
Corrosion is one of the biggest problems with water heaters. In order to avoid corrosion, drain at least 2 – 3 gallons from the water heater tank. Draining your tank will help eliminate residue that ultimately leads to corrosion. Additionally this helps to keep your water heater running efficiently for a longer lifespan.
You should consider replacing your water heater if the unit is 15 years or older. Although it may seem costly up front, a newer unit will help to save money on your monthly energy bill due to running much more efficiently than an older model. A newer unit is also much less likely to get damaged and/or need repairs, which can get expensive.
If you have an ice maker, washing machine, and/or dishwasher, it is very important to check the water supply hoses that run to each appliance. You should have the hoses replaced immediately if you see any signs of leakage or bulging in order to prevent them from bursting. Any supply hoses that are 10 years or older should also be replaced, and it is highly recommended to use stainless steel replacement hoses due to overall durability.
A simple, yet often overlooked task is checking and cleaning the lint trap of your washing machine. It is important to keep the lint trap clean in order to avoid lint from blocking your drain. There is even the option of having a plumber install a wire trap filter at the end of your drain hose which also helps to increase drainage and decrease lint blockage.
For those of you who have basements in your homes, you should be checking your sump pump to ensure it is working properly. You can do this by pouring some water into the sump pit, at which point the pump should activate, turn on automatically, discharge the water, and then shut off automatically. You may want to consider installing a flood alarm in your basement and bathrooms as well.
Another simple, yet often overlooked task is checking all of the toilets in your household for leaks of any kind. A quick way to determine whether or not there are any issues with your toilet is to add some food coloring to the tank. After approximately 20 – 30 minutes, check the color of the water in the toilet bowl. If it’s the same color as the water in the tank, there are likely no issues. If the water color in the toilet bowl is different from the tank water, it means there is something wrong with one of the mechanisms in the tank. Although most people are comfortable replacing these components on their own, you should call a plumber if you are unsure how to proceed.
You should also be checking the valves that supply water to your toilets and sinks. Rust, caulk, mineral deposits, and other constituents can clog these valves over time, reducing the efficiency of your plumbing. A quick way to check these valves is to make sure you can turn them on and off easily. If you have no trouble turning the valves on and off, then they are working properly. If you do have trouble turning the valves on and off, it is recommended that you call a plumber. They will be able to replace the valves, unless you are confident in being able to replace them yourself.
OUTSIDE THE HOME
Many people either forget or ignore outdoor plumbing, such as yard drains, gutters, and downspouts. Make sure everything is cleared of grass clippings, leaves, and other debris that builds up outside over time. Check your vent pipes to ensure there are no birds nesting inside. You should also check all outdoor faucets and hose bibs to make sure water can flow through them freely. If you notice a leak inside the home when you turn on an outdoor faucet, or if you have a leak in an outdoor faucet, that may be an indication of a cracked pipe. This could be caused from a winter freeze, which will need to be replaced by a professional.
During your spring cleaning process, you may want to consider having a trusted plumber perform a walk-through. They will walk through both the inside and outside of your home to ensure everything is working properly. This will give you comfort in knowing your home will remain efficient and functional for the months to come.
It’s important that all of your kitchen plumbing is also checked, including appliances and all fixtures. Make sure there are no leaks or drips. If your faucet’s aerator is starting to accumulate a buildup of mineral deposits, you can clean it out by unscrewing the aerator and placing it in vinegar to soak overnight.