If you're new to being a homeowner, you probably don't have much experience with plumbing problems and may not even give plumbing a second thought. However, that may change significantly after you've experienced your first major plumbing mishap. Fortunately, strategies to minimize surprises exist for new homeowners and for others who are unfamiliar with plumbing woes. The following are several basic maintenance tasks that can keep your plumbing in good shape.
Winterize Your Pipes
One of the biggest mistakes new homeowners make is failing to winterize their pipes. When water freezes in plumbing pipes, it expands and takes up more space, and this creates pressure that can cause the pipes to break — and if this happens, your pipes are going to have to be replaced. Those who live in areas where seasonal temperatures dip below freezing even on a semi-regular basis can install pipe insulation or heat tape — this is better off performed by a qualified plumber — but you should take other precautions as well. Don't turn your heat completely off when you're out of the house — keeping your thermostat at 55 degrees or more will help prevent interior pipes from freezing. Close up all crawl spaces in the fall, and don't forget your outdoor irrigation system — disconnect and put away your lawn and garden hoses for the winter and drain your sprinkler system.
Familiarize Yourself With Your Main Shutoff Valve
Few things are more frustrating than being in the middle of a plumbing emergency involving rushing water and not being able to locate the main shutoff valve. One of the first things that you should do as a new homeowner is find out where the main water shutoff valve is located on your property and how to operate it so that you won't be left scrambling in a panic if the time comes when you need to shut your household water off as quickly as possible. This valve is generally located on an exterior wall of the home or in the basement, but it could also be located at the edge of your property.
Limit the Use of Over-the-Counter Drain Cleaning Products
Most people automatically reach for over-the-counter drain cleaning products when their plumbing gets clogged, but because these contain harsh chemicals, they're doing your household plumbing more harm than good. Most of the time, they only remove enough of the clog to allow some amount of water to get through the pipes, so the clogs quickly build back up. If your pipes are made from cast iron, the chemicals contained in these products can actually cause significant erosion that can lead to costly repairs and shorten the life of your plumbing system. Your local plumbing repair service can clean out clogs with a snake instead of with chemicals.
Have a Water Pressure Reduction Device Installed
High water pressure makes every component in your plumbing system work harder. It can cause toilets to run when they aren't being used and create leaks around pipe joints, as well as generally waste water, causing your utility bills to skyrocket. You can purchase an inexpensive water pressure gauge from your local home improvement retailer, or you can ask your local plumbing contractor to check your water pressure for you. If the water pressure is found to be too high, your plumber can install a pressure regulator. At the most, your water pressure should be 80 psi.
One of the most important things that new homeowners need to keep in mind concerning plumbing is that small issues can quickly become large ones, so take care of small clogs and leaks before they turn into bigger and more expensive problems. Contact a plumbing contractor at a company like Cove Plumbing Inc for additional information.