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Almost as long as we’ve had houses, we’ve had plumbing to maintain. In fact, the first plumbing was introduced around 4000 BCE in Mesopotamia and consisted of clay sewage pipes. Luckily, we have much more reliable systems today, but they can still break down and literally dampen your day.
You probably don’t think about your plumbing very much – until it breaks. But if you take a little time on a regular basis to review and assess your home’s plumbing health, you’ll avoid major disasters.
Here are some checklists you can add to the schedule. Most tasks take just a few minutes, and if you do catch problems early, you’ll lower repair costs and mitigate damage.
Make a note to keep your eyes open for these red flags whenever you’re cleaning or doing chores around the house. Just being aware of warning signs will help you avoid problems.
- Check under sinks for leaks or water damage.
- Look for discoloration on pipes, which could indicate a leak.
- Inspect all faucets or slow drips.
- Clean out faucet aerators and shower heads if they’re clogged.
- Scan caulking around tubs, shower, toilet bases and sinks for dryness or cracks and replace if needed.
- Check the water line to your ice maker and water dispenser in the refrigerator for any drips.
- Look for water under the dishwasher.
- Test the seal on the toilet flapper and listen for whether the toilet is running. If it’s running when it isn’t flushed, you may need to replace the flapper or the water fill valve.
- Gently rock the toilet. If it moves, the seal under the floor may be broken. It will need to be re-sealed to prevent leaks.
- Flush any toilets that aren’t often used, such as in guest rooms, to ensure they’re working.
- Check all drains to make sure they’re emptying cleanly and quickly.
- Scan walls and ceilings for any mildew or damp spots which could indicate leaks.
- Check rubber supply hoses to the washing machine for dryness or cracks. If you need to replace them, consider getting more durable braided steel hoses.
- Observe whether the sump pump is working properly and the drains are clear.
Pro Tip: Most regular maintenance involves hunting for possible leaks because they can cause significant damage to your home and drive up water bills. If you suspect leaks or want to monitor your plumbing system more closely, consider installing a leak detection system. Leak detection will alert your smart phone if any unusual water use occurs. You can even shut water off remotely if something breaks while you’re away.
Semi-Annual Preventive Maintenance
Every 6 months or so, plan for some maintenance tasks that will help your equipment last longer.
- Replace your whole house water filters.
- Have drains cleaned.
- Clean out the p-traps under the sinks.
- Inspect vent pipes for blocks.
Annual Systems Maintenance
Schedule time once a year to take care of your water heater and water pressure. Your efforts will not only keep costs down, but will help your plumbing and water heater last longer.
- Check water heater temperature. If needed, reset it to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the best temperature for safe and efficient home use. If it’s not heating up to 120, have it inspected.
- Flush the water heater tank to remove any sediment that could interfere with its operation.
- Inspect water heater parts:
- Ensure the pressure relief value opens smoothly.
- Inspect the anode rod for corrosion. This only needs to be done every 2-3 years, but if you see corrosion, have it replaced.
- Check the gas flame if you have one. It should burn mostly blue.
- Test for good water pressure. Your house water pressure should ideally fall between 45 and 55 psi. If you clock anything lower than 30 or higher than 80, call in a professional.
You’ve come through the winter and it’s time to start using outdoor plumbing for irrigation, swimming pools, and outside cleaning. Do some quick checks on those systems so you can address any leaks that might have popped up during winter.
- Check all outdoor spigots for drips.
- Look around for any damp patches in the yard which could indicate leaks in an underground pipe.
- Remove any damp or moldy pipe insulation.
- If you have a pool or sprinkler system, inspect the pipes, joints, and valves for leaks so you can get them fixed before the summer heats up.
As summer draws to a close, you’re facing cooler weather. While the Dallas/Fort Worth area doesn’t typically face on-going freezing weather, one bad cold snap can cripple your plumbing. Some simple preventive maintenance will keep pipes safe.
- Clean out debris and leaves from gutters.
- Unhook outdoor hoses, drain them, and store in a dry area.
- If you have an interior valve which shuts off water to outdoor faucets, close it and open the outdoor faucets to drain them.
- If you can’t shut down water to outdoor faucets, fix any drippy ones and add some insulation against cold snaps.
- Check areas where outdoor pipes enter your home. If there are open gaps, fill them with weather stripping, caulking, or insulation.
Monitor Older Equipment
Water heaters, filters, and appliances have become extremely reliable, but they still need replacing occasionally. Check the lifespan and age of your equipment and consider changing out older units.
- Water meters typically last 15-20 years.
- Replace whole house filter systems every 3-10 years depending on the type.
- Garbage disposals need updates about every 12 years.
- Sump pumps tend to hold out for about 10 years.
- Water heater lifespans vary:
- Electric – 10 to 15 years
- Gas – 8 to 12 years
- Tankless – 15 to 20 years
You’re the first line of defense against plumbing disasters. Making regular checks and keeping your eyes open for warning signs will prevent small problems from getting out of hand.
If you do see something concerning, call in expert plumbers like Horizon to help. We handle any residential plumbing issues, small or large.
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