How to Effectively Maintain Your Home’s Plumbing Systems

by Ben SanfordSeptember 8, 2016

How to Prevent Plumbing Problems in Your Home

A home’s plumbing is often taken for granted, much like its electrical system. In many cases, homeowners go with the logic that systems like that, out of sight and inside the walls — well, they just work. In fact, it usually takes them having a major problem and breaking before a homeowner pays any attention to them. By that time, you can be sure that a repair is going to cost you.

But, when it comes to the plumbing in a home, there are several maintenance steps you should be taking daily, weekly, and seasonally to help prevent costly problems from arising. Here are some tips to help you ensure your home’s plumbing keeps running optimally.

How to Effectively Maintain Your Home's Plumbing Systems

Daily Plumbing Maintenance

Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter most, and when it comes to maintaining your home’s plumbing system, a little goes a long way. Drain clogs are probably the most common nuisance a homeowner is going face with their plumbing system. But, even a simple clog can cause problems down the road because every time a drain becomes clogged, it adds pressure to the pipe structure.

This is why taking daily steps to prevent drain clogs is so important. In the kitchen, this means not pouring grease, fats, or oils (including cooking oil and butter) down the drain. These products will eventually coagulate inside of the drains, and if the clog is in the drain outside of the home, then the repair can really get expensive.

Proper use of the garbage disposal is also important for preventing clogs. When using your garbage disposal, you should turn the water on before running the disposal and leave the water running for a good 15 seconds afterward to help rinse the debris through to the main line. You should also avoid putting certain foods in the disposal, including fibrous foods like banana peels and celery, as well as foods that are difficult to process, like potato peels and cucumber peels.

In the bathroom, you should reduce your use of bath oils and avoid using chemical clog removal products. You should also avoid flushing anything other than human waste and toilet paper down the toilet. Things like tampons, diapers, and other garbage items will quickly cause a clog if you try to flush them.

Weekly Plumbing Maintenance

A plumbing leak almost always starts off slow, but it can get out of control very quickly. So, you should do a weekly inspection of your home’s plumbing to look for signs of leaks. If you come across a musty smell, a puddle of water, or mold growth, then you probably have a leak somewhere.

Another weekly maintenance tip is to test your drains for smooth drainage. If your sink fills up with bubbles, then that’s a sign that the drain is draining slower than intended. A smooth flowing drain will always have a full swirl of water as it goes down. During this inspection, be sure to always check the faucet handles and the pipe valves to make sure no water is leaking from them.

Other common places to look for leaks on a weekly basis include your shower heads, pipe fittings, and toilet flappers.

Seasonal Plumbing Maintenance

If you live on the east coast or in an area with a cold seasonal climate, then the changing of the seasons can really affect your home’s plumbing system if you aren’t prepared. Here’s a list of seasonal maintenance tips to help protect your plumbing before the winter season arrives.

  • Disconnect any hoses from your outdoor spigots
  • Shut off the water to the outdoor spigots and drain the lines of water
  • Inspect your outdoor spigots for signs of leaks
  • Install a foam insulated cover over your outdoor spigots
  • Wrap heat tape or foam insulation over plumbing pipes located in the home’s un-insulated areas, like those in the garage, crawl spaces, or basement

How to Effectively Maintain Your Home's Plumbing Systems

Maintaining the Water Heater

The water heater can be an expensive repair if it goes bad, so it’s important to maintain it as well as possible. One of the most important things you can do to ensure your hot water heater is performing optimally is to keep its temperature set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you set it any higher, your water heater will work less efficiently and cost you more in energy costs. It will also reduce the tank’s expected lifespan.

Over time, sediment will start to gather in the bottom of the hot water tank, and this will also shorten the lifespan of the tank. Therefore, it’s important to hook a hose up to the drain spout located at the bottom of the tank and flush the debris out once or twice a year.

A Few Simple Maintenance Steps Can Save You Big

It really doesn’t take much to maintain your home’s plumbing system. But, the steps you take are essential for avoiding costly catastrophes like broken pipes, a bad water heater, and clogged mains. Don’t take your plumbing system for granted. Give it the attention it deserves and it will reward you with lower energy bills and a safer, cleaner, and more hygienic home.


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About The Author
Ben Sanford
Ben is a real estate agent and freelance writer. He's lived on the east coast his entire life and is just as "at home" on a snowboard as he is in the office. When not writing about local real estate markets and researching hot new tips for homeowners, he can be found working on his home renovation projects with help from his wife Melissa and their kids, Josh and Cheyenne.