Homeownership means not only understanding the different systems in your home but also knowing what regular maintenance is necessary to ensure safe, efficient operation of these systems. One of the most important systems in your home is your plumbing. Understanding your plumbing and what maintenance is necessary will save you a lot of time, money and effort in the long run.
Below are some tips that can help you avoid major repairs, help extend life expectancy, and in some cases even reduce energy consumption.
- Most people are astounded at the impact of even tiny leaks in faucets or toilets. Leaks that are barely perceptible to the naked eye can waste thousands of gallons of fresh water a year, costing you hundreds of dollars in excess water bills. (If the leak is hot water, you’ll lose energy dollars as well!) If you have a leak that you know of, get it fixed before all that money goes down the drain. It’s a good idea to have a professional plumber do a complete household check-up to find leaks that escape casual notice.
- Your water heater is one of the most important household appliances. Over time sediment builds at the bottom of the heater, which can hamper performance. This sediment if left unchecked, will cause corrosion in the tank that will eventually lead to premature failure of your water heater. You should have a professional plumber check this on an annual basis. During this check the tank should be drained and refilled in order to get rid of this sediment. Your technician should also check the drain valve for signs of leakage, and the anode rods for corrosion.
- Also important is a water heater burner inspection. A good way of telling is to check the flame under the water heater. It should appear blue with yellow tips. If it’s mostly yellow or if you see a layer of soot and carbon, the flue ways may be clogged. DO NOT try anything yourself at this point. Call a professional to investigate the situation.
- Once a water heater springs a leak in its housing, it is beyond repair and must be replaced. Many units will last 15-20 years or even longer before this happens. (And it always seems to happen at the most inconvenient times, like when the family is coming over for the holidays!) If you have an ancient water heater, it may pay off for you to get it replaced even before it breaks down. Units made in the last 10-15 years have much higher operating efficiencies than older models. Savings in fuel costs often will pay for the new installation in just a few years.
- Lawn sprinklers often spring leaks over the winter. If puddles form on your lawn, you probably have seepage in some of the lines.
- Check your sump pump to make sure it’s in working order before the heavy spring/summer rains fall. Watch for build-up of sand or other debris in the sump pit. This can jam the pump and burn out its motor. Also, make sure the pump’s discharge pipe is not clogged.
- Consider getting a battery-operated back-up sump pump if your pump has been overloaded in the past from heavy rains.
- Keep rain gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and other debris. Water overflowing from blocked gutters collects around your home’s foundation and seeps into your basement.
- If your home is equipped with a flood control device such as an ejector pump, have it checked by your plumbing contractor to make sure it is working properly before the heavy rains hit.