10 Tips for Avoiding Plumbing Emergencies

Below are some tips to prevent sudden plumbing disasters from happening to your home:

1. Test Water Pressure

Pipes with sediment buildup or leaks can cause low water pressure.

Periodically check the water pressure in your home by running the faucet in a bathtub. Go to your kitchen sink and turn it on. If the water pressure in the bathtub decreases, you very well may have a problem that needs to be addressed by a plumber.

2. Check Valves

In case of a plumbing emergency, you need to be able to shut off the water flow as fast as possible. (Be aware of the shut-off valves in your home, such as under your toilet, under your faucets & the main shut-off valve) Be sure to check all the shut-off valves in your home, such as toilets. An article in a home improvement blog recommends letting all family members know where they are located and how to work them.

If pipes are frozen, shut off the main water valve until the pipes are thawed.

Corrosion can cause valves to stick and you will be unable to adjust them if not inspected regularly. It is also a sign of a leak you may be unaware of. You can check your shut-off valves by turning them off and then turning back into the original position. If they stick, you will need to replace them.

3.Check Caulking

Regularly,  inspect the caulking around bathtubs, toilets, sinks and showers and make sure it is not cracked, loose or missing. Damaged caulking will allow moisture and water to go through and potentially damage the sub-floor. Old caulking should be completely removed and the area cleaned before applying new caulking. Make sure that the joints are completely sealed by the new caulk.

4.Buy A Plunger

Using too much tissue can easily clog toilets. They can be unclogged quickly without having to call a plumber by using a plunger. An article on DIY Network suggests using a cup style plunger for toilet clogs. For  clogs in sinks and tubs a small Auger or Drain Snake can be used very effectively.

5.Drain Maintenance and Clog Prevention

One of the easiest ways to avoid getting a clogged drain is by using a sink trap. These traps will catch hair and large soap and other debris from collecting in your bathroom sinks, tubs and showers. You can also use sink traps in the kitchen to avoid getting pieces of food stuck in the drain.

If your sink starts to drain slowly, nip the problem in the bud by using liquid drain cleaner. This article states that one should never pour grease or oil down your sink, or you will risk a clog.

6.Insulate Pipes In Winter

If you live in an area that gets extremely cold in the winter, you must insulate your pipes with special thermal tape or wrap them in inexpensive foam insulation. Also, you should always leave a slight trickle of water dripping out of your faucets at night when the temperature drops below zero, for the same reason.

7.Check For Leaks

Inspect the flooring and cabinets around sinks, tubs, showers, washers, dryers, dishwashers and toilets for leaks. If the floor is soft and the area is damp, you may have a leak.

These leaks could be caused by rusty pipes, a toilet that is running, or other reasons and could cause major damage if not repaired quickly.

8.Garbage Disposal

Almost everyone runs into the problem of a clogged garbage disposal unit that won’t start. Most times these units can be easily reset by pressing the small red or black button under the unit. If that does not help, turn off the power to the unit first. Get an Alan-wrench into the small hole on the underside of the unit and manually turn it to dislodge the clog. Then turn the power back on to the garbage disposal, press reset button and try. It should work.

9.Sump Pump Maintenance

If you have a crawl space or basement,  that gets partly flooded during rains you may already have a sump pump installed there.

Check to see that it is in the lowest part of basement, preferably in a pit. Check that the inlet, or discharge pipes are not blocked. Also test the float by pouring water in the pit, this should make the float rise up and trigger the sump pump to start pulling water out of the pit and into an external drain.

Every two to three years check and change batteries of units that are battery operated.

10.Maintenance Appointment

To ensure that you have all your bases covered, schedule an annual maintenance appointment with your local plumber.

Plumbers can do an inspection of your pipes and drains, to ensure that all hoses and connections to sink, dishwasher, refrigerator and washing machine are securely connected. Replace any rubber hoses with steel braided hoses, as rubber hoses only last for 2-5 years. They can also check your water heater by flushing sediment, checking the anode rod and  looking for any signs of leakage.

As you can see, preventative maintenance is an easy way to keep your home free of leaks and clogs. If you happen to run into a problem you cannot handle, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber, Be sure to research them first to ensure that you will receive the quality service that you deserve.
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