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Homeowners 101: Basic Plumbing Maintenance Tips

A little preventive maintenance can keep your home’s systems healthy and help you avoid serious problems and major expense. As with automobiles and even your own body, scheduling regular checkups and following recommended guidelines for use are vital components to ensuring long life and reliable service. Here are some basic plumbing maintenance tips that are useful to know.

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Things to Do and Know

Schedule periodic checkups and routine maintenance of all your home’s systems, including your water heater and heating and cooling systems; each has a reasonable lifespan. Turn off water to your washer and water heater when you leave on vacation. Know how to protect hose bibs and pipes from extreme cold.

Things can go awry without warning, however, so it is wise to locate main cut-off valves. At a minimum, know:

  • The location of the main water supply line
  • Location of the main water cut-off valve, and how it operates
  • Location of main sewer line and clean outs
  • The type of heat, hot water and air conditioning you have (whether it’s electric, natural gas or propane)
  • Water supply valve locations for sinks, toilets and major appliances.

Plan for Emergencies

As a homeowner, knowing how to tighten a faucet or run an icemaker line, how to check the supply and drain lines on your dishwasher, and the best ways to clear simple blockages can save you time, money and frustration if your problem is a small one. Knowing a few simple fixes will also help you to troubleshoot what may be a larger problem, and help you decide when to call in a professional like Petro Home Services. If you need help with a maintenance schedule, we’re just a phone call away.

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Supply Lines are under Pressure

The reason water appears instantly at your tap is that supply lines are under pressure. That means that a slow leak or an annoying drip can become a spewing geyser before you can reach for a “cork.” By regularly checking faucets, both hot and cold lines, you should be able to spot problem areas before you have a flood on your hands. Remember that faucets are designed to operate easily. Avoid turning them too tightly during normal use. If you use tools to make adjustments, monitor your repairs until you are certain that all is well.

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Avoid minor blockages

Do not put things in drains that don’t belong there. Try to prevent hair in the tub or shower from going down the drain. Do not pour grease down the kitchen sink, even if you do run hot water at the same time! Avoid fibrous roots (like celery and cabbage hearts) onion skins, potato and carrot peels, and sticky goo in the disposer; and be wary of coffee grounds and rice. It’s better to put some things in the compost pile or the trash!

When a drain is clogged, know that a plunger isn’t called a plumber’s helper for nothing. But you should find out which one to use and how to use it properly. Also know when to give it up and call in reinforcements. If you know a “foreign object” went down the drain, it may be stuck in the P-trap. In such cases, unless you’re very handy, you might want to call your plumber to dismantle the trap and put it back together properly.

Drains are meant to flow; if water pools in your tub, shower of sink, use baking soda and vinegar as an efficient remedy. Just follow the directions — the bubbles are much better for your drains and for the environment than caustic chemicals in commercial drain cleaners.

Main Line Blockages

When it comes to plumbing, remember that little drips can become big problems if you ignore them. Leaky faucets, any sounds of running water or gurgling in the pipes, damp patches in cabinets, or visual signs of mold and mildew should be cause for concern. If water backs up into a kitchen sink or a bathtub, chances are you have an outside sewer line blockage. And because water sounds and leaks can be deceptively hard to isolate, if you hear these noises, the best course of action is to call a professional.

Always opt for licensed, professional plumbing services if you smell gas, or if your water heater is making odd sounds.