Nearly every homeowner experiences a plumbing problem at some point. While it’s always best to call a professional for plumbing repairs, many regular plumbing maintenance tasks are things you can do yourself. You can do simple things to keep your pipes, drains, and other plumbing components in good working order and prevent major plumbing issues.
Plumbing Tips for Homeowners
1. Know the Location of Your Main Water Shutoff Valve
As soon as you move into a new home, locate the water meter and main supply valve. The main shut-off is almost always located near the outside perimeter of your house and always on the ground floor or in the basement or crawl space. The shut-off valve is likely located near the water heater or under the kitchen sink if you have a slab foundation. Being able to shut off the water in an emergency can save thousands of dollars in property damage.
2. Locate Independent Supply Valves
Most fixtures and appliances, such as water heaters, dishwashers, toilets, and sinks, are fitted with their own supply valves. Make sure that each supply valve is easy to turn on and off. In the event of a problem, turning off an individual supply valve may be all that is needed to prevent flooding. Test each supply valve once a year to ensure they turn easily and work properly. If they don’t turn or start to leak when you turn them, call a plumber to have the parts replaced.
3. Assemble a Plumbing Emergency Kit
A few essential tools can help you with minor plumbing issues or buy you time while waiting for a plumber to arrive. Some important items are a plunger, drain snake, screwdriver, paper towels, bucket, and rags. In the event of a minor pipe leak, some duct tape can make a temporary repair.
4. Quickly Stop an Overflowing Toilet
Nothing is more frightening than watching the water level rise in a toilet bowl. Open the tank and push the flush valve down if you think it might overflow. This will stop the water and buy you time to address the problem.
5. Check for Toilet Leaks
Toilets are often the cause of expensive water leaks. An easy way to check for a leak is to put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank. Wait an hour or two. Check the bowl to see if the food coloring has made its way into the water. If so, you have a leak. Replacing the flush valve seal usually solves the problem.
6. Install Mesh Drain Covers
Hair, chunks of soap, small toys, and other debris are common causes of clogs. Installing inexpensive mesh drain covers in your sinks, showers, and bathtubs can keep debris from clogging your drains and save you the trouble of having to snake a drain or call a plumber.
7. Keep An Eye Out for Water Leaks
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that around one trillion gallons of water are wasted each year in the United States. Even a tiny leak can waste hundreds of gallons per day. Many leaks are apparent and easy to spot, but others aren’t noticed until it’s too late. Inexpensive leak detectors are a good investment and can alert you when they detect moisture. To avoid high water bills and damage to your home, regularly inspect areas prone to leaks. These include areas around or under:
- Garbage disposals
- Water heaters
- Washing machines
8. Limit What You Put Down Your Drains
The easiest way to prevent clogged drains is to be careful about what goes down them. Never flush anything down a toilet except for human waste and toilet paper. The only things that should go down sink and tub drains are water and soap. Hair combined with soap is a common cause of clogged shower drains. Placing a drain cover in your shower or bathtub can stop hair and other items from falling down the drain.
9. Avoid Harsh Chemicals
Never use a plunger after you have used a chemical drain cleaner. If the water splashes onto your skin and eyes, you could be severely burned or injured. Better yet, don’t use chemical drain cleaners at all. In addition to being hazardous to people and pets, they can damage your plumbing. A plunger or drain snake should clear minor blockages. If using a plunger doesn’t clear a clog, call a professional plumber for help.
When to Call a Professional
While following these tips can help prevent problems, most homeowners will experience a plumbing problem at some point that requires the services of a licensed plumber. If you discover a serious leak, broken pipe, or backed-up sewage in your home, call a professional immediately to prevent costly property damage.
Call the Trusted Plumbing Professionals in Los Gatos
If you’re experiencing plumbing issues, call Simply Green Plumbing, Sewer & Rooter & Rooter at (408) 716-1686, or contact us online to schedule an appointment. Our experienced technicians have over 30 years of plumbing experience, and they are ready to help you with all of your plumbing problems, no matter how big or small.