How to Head Off a Plumbing Nightmare

David Deem

From the annoyance of a clogged drain to the nightmare of a flooded basement, plumbing problems can wreak a wide variety of havoc on a homeowner’s life.

What many don’t realize, however, is that most of these problems are avoidable with a little preventative maintenance. If you wait for an issue to become obvious, the damage may already be done and the necessary repairs expensive. So grab your clipboard and a flashlight, and perform the following inspections recommended by Harts Services.

1. Survey the outside of your home. Take a close look at storm drains, gutters, pipe vents and downspouts to make sure they’re properly cleaned. If they’re clogged with debris, that could prevent water from flowing freely and cause it to leak into your home. Be sure to also check outdoor faucets for drips, which could be a sign of cracks.

2. Test your sump pump. If you have a sump pump in your basement, pour a gallon of water into the pit. This should activate the pump and cause it to push the excess water out through the drain pipe. If this doesn’t happen, something’s wrong. Contact a professional to get your sump pump back in good working condition.

3. Check out your kitchen sink. Clear out everything from under the kitchen sink to get a good look at your pipes. Make sure there are no leaks, then run hot water down the drain for 15 minutes. This will help clean out the drain and also give you a chance to see how well it’s draining. If you have a garbage disposal, throw a few ice cubes down the drain, run the cold water, then turn the disposal on. This will help clean the blades.

4. Check out the bathroom. Remove showerheads and soak them for an hour in vinegar to help remove sediment build-up. Check the flushing mechanism in your toilet tank to make sure it’s functioning properly, making sure the tank refills within one minute. If you suspect a leak in your toilet bowl, add food coloring to the toilet tank, then wait 30 minutes. Flush, and if the coloring appears in the toilet bowl, that means the tank is leaking into the bowl. Time to call a professional.

5. Find invisible leaks. Finally, do a check for any invisible leaks in your home. You can do this by shutting off your main water valve. Then check your water meter’s leak indicator for any water movement. If you discover anything, contact a plumbing professional right away.

Performing this simple inspection will allow you to discover any potential issues before they become costly problems. The peace of mind is a worthwhile trade-off for the time it will take you.



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