Face it, it’s easy to ignore your plumbing system until something goes wrong. Really easy. But taking the time to check your system can keep problems at bay, saving you a lot of time, money and hassle. So roll up your sleeves, don the rubber gloves and get to work.
Drain your water heater. Keeping your water heater clean isn’t hard, but it is important. First, turn off the power and/or gas supply to the water heater.To drain, attach a hose and drain the water into a bucket. Briefly turn on the cold water valve, which will stir up the sediment. Drain again and repeat until the water comes out clean.
Check your drains. Clogged drains can be a real mess, so do a once-over to see if you suspect one coming your way. Is there a lingering smell? Does it drain slowly? Does it get clogged frequently? If so, either shut off the valves and open up the pipes to clean them, or call a plumber. Liquid drain cleaners aren’t recommended since they can erode the pipes and make clogs worse.
Clean the toilet tank. Yes, we said the tank. Doing so can extend the lifespan of your toilet. Standing water brings about mold, and debris can erode the rubber on the plunger and flapper. To clean, turn off the water and flush the toilet. Mix 1/4 white vinegar with 1 c. water and scrub. We don’t recommend toilet tabs because they contain bleach which can erode the parts. Either way, always wear gloves.
Check for leaks. For the toilet, put a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Wait 10 minutes, and if the color leaks into the bowl, you have a leak. If you see your faucets and showerheads dripping, don’t wait to fix them. You would be surprised at how much water (and money) is wasted through drips.
Some of these suggestions can be easily handled, but if you don’t trust your skills, call an expert for a plumbing inspection. Trite as it sounds, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Deck the halls, wrap the gifts and check your plumbing. Holiday gatherings bring good cheer, good food, and extra stress on your drains, garbage disposal and plumbing system. A few precautions can make all the difference, so take note and get ahead of the game.
1. Make sure you have mesh screens over your sink and tub drains. You never know what a little munchkin might drop into the sink or bath. (Not to mention the extra food and hair.)
2. Your garbage disposal can only do so much. The intention is not to absorb all of your food waste. Only put small scraps in the disposal, scrape the rest into the trash. Never put these foods down your garbage disposal: coffee grounds, meat, poultry, fish, beef or pork bones (chicken bones are okay), pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, fruit or vegetable peels. Have cold water running through the disposer the entire time you are using it, this keeps the food firm and it chops up better.
3. Don’t pour grease down the sink. This is bad on all levels— the disposal, the drain pipe, the smell…you get the picture.
4. Space out showers. If everyone waits until the last minute, someone’s getting a cold shower. Give your water heater time to re-heat the water in between. (Tip: Have some people bathe at night.)
5. Make sure your toilet isn’t continuously or randomly running. If it’s running and not being used, it could be a faulty rubber stopper. This is easy to change, and expensive if you don’t.
6. When all else fails, keep a drain snake and toilet plunger handy. Let’s face it, life happens and things can get messy.