Plumbing problems often go undetected until they cause a sewage backup or damaging leak. But if you spend an afternoon inspecting and maintaining your home’s plumbing, you can spot some of these problems early on and also prevent other problems from occurring. Here’s a simple plumbing maintenance checklist that you should be able to complete in a single afternoon.
If you have faucets that you rarely use, such as those in guest bathrooms and laundry rooms, spend a few minutes turning them on and off. This should keep them from seizing due to lack of use. If a faucet seems tight, you can disassemble it and apply some silicone-based lubricant. Simply use your wrench or screwdriver to remove the faucet handle from the base, and then pull out the valve. Apply lubricant to the valve, valve stem, and o-rings.
Lubricate Your Water Main Valve
If you ever have a major plumbing leak, turning off the water supply at the water main valve will prevent the flooding from getting any worse. However, many water main valves end up tight and hard to turn since they’re rarely used. To lubricate your water main valve, just apply a few drops of silicone lubricant to the valve stem, and then open and close the valve a few times to spread the lubricant.
Check Your Washing Machine Shut-Off Valves
Similarly, if your washing machine ever floods, being able to turn off its water supply is paramount. Locate the valve that controls water flow to your washing machine. There are usually two valves-one for hot water and another for cold water. Make sure each valve turns easily, and if it does not, apply some lubricant as you did with the water main valve.
Empty and Replace Drain Baskets
If you do not have baskets in your shower drains, head to the local home goods store and buy a few. Baskets catch hair, preventing it from going down the drain and causing clogs. If you do have baskets in your shower drains, check to ensure they are intact and are not developing any larger holes that hair may slip through. Replace them if they’re showing signs of wear. While you’re at it, empty any hair out of the baskets.
Look Over Your Water Bills
Take a minute to look over your water bills from the past few months. If you notice any large, unexplained increases in the bill, this could indicate a plumbing leak. Keep in mind that leaks can occur below ground in the pipes leading into your home, and they may go on for some time before they cause any noticeable moisture accumulation or damage. Contact your plumber to inspect your system for leaks if your water bills raise suspicions.
Clean Your Shower Head
Has your shower felt less powerful lately? It’s probably due to mineral buildup on the shower head. You can remove the mineral buildup by filling a plastic baggie with white vinegar and then securing the bag around the shower head with a rubber band. Let it sit overnight, and then scrub away the mineral buildup with a toothbrush.
Inspect Your Hot Water Heater
Take a look at the floor around your hot water heater, and make sure there are no drops of water that indicate a leak. Make sure the cold water shutoff valve, located at the top of the unit, opens and closes easily. Apply some silicone lubricant if it does not. If you have a gas hot water tank, check to ensure the pilot light is burning blue, not orange or yellow.
If you do notice that your hot water heater is leaking or the pilot flame is orange, contact your plumber to inquire about replacing or repairing the unit.
Spending an afternoon tackling this maintenance checklist every few months may save you from having to spend a night bailing water out of your basement and calling emergency plumbers. Alternatively, consider making a preventative maintenance appointment with Cleary Plumbing and letting the professionals look over your system.