Spring is right around the corner, and you’re probably already daydreaming about lots of fun activities. But don’t forget about the house when you’re planning your adventures! Spring is the perfect time to put in some plumbing maintenance and repair around the home. Here are some top plumbing tips from Autry Plumbing.
It’s Time To De-Winterize
If you left your Autry area home for a warmer climate during the winter, you probably winterized your pipes before you left. Winterized pipes have been completely emptied of water to prevent freezing, as frozen pipes can crack or break. Now that spring is approaching, it’s time to de-winterize those pipes for warmer weather.
Begin by ensuring that your water supply lines are connected and ready for use. If your water lines have shut-off valves, turn these off next, so that you can test individual fixtures, one at a time, for leaks. Once your shut-off valves are turned off, you can turn on the water and let each individual tap run for a few minutes, watching for leaks while it runs. You will also need to flush each toilet a couple of times to ensure that there are no leaks in the toilet pipes. Wait a few minutes for each fixture and tap, as leaks sometimes don’t appear immediately.
Watch For Low Water Pressure
As you check each fixture, be on the watch for low water pressure. Low water pressure in a sink, shower, or other fixture may be caused by one of many issues. Some potential reasons for low pressure include: a faulty water heater, a malfunctioning pressure reducing valve, old water filters, an undiscovered leak, mineral buildup in pipes or a fault with the well pump.
To solve your water pressure problem, try some of the following tips before calling a professional plumber.
Inspect All Hose Bibs
Once spring comes, you’ll be outside more and using those gardening hoses and sprinklers. Leaks can easily be caused by a garden hose that is left attached to the spigot during colder months. Now is the time to inspect your hose bibs (also called ‘spigots,’) and outdoor water lines for any damage caused over the winter.
Turn on your hose, and, as you look for damage, watch for these signs of a cracked or broken pipe: dripping faucets, low water pressure, standing water in the basement or standing water elsewhere in the house.
Inspect For Hidden Leaks
Even if you don’t see any dripping taps or standing water, there are lots of places that leaks can hide. When water leaks are left undetected, serious damage can occur over time.
If you have city water, you can begin by checking the leak indicator on your water meter. A red triangle on the meter will move if there is flowing water. If you don’t have a leak indicator, you can manually check for leaks by comparing the meter numbers before you go to bed and again in the morning. If the number is different, you more than likely have a hidden leak.
Be sure to check for the following signs of hidden leaks: water underneath the refrigerator, damp places on walls and ceilings, water stains, water or damp patches under sinks and around any exposed pipes. You may also notice a musty or moldy smell, if there is a hidden leak in your home.
You’ll also want to check all the water lines in appliances to ensure that they are functioning correctly, and that there are no leaks. A few things to check: ice maker lines, dishwasher lines and washing machine hoses.
Inspect The Water Heater
Now that you’re back for the spring and summer, it’s time to turn the water heater on again. Setting the temperature to 120℉ will both keep the heater running at an energy-efficient level and prevent potential fire hazard. This is also a good time to make sure the area around the water heater is clear of any flammable materials.
Next, check the age of your water heater. To find the date of manufacture, look at the first four digits of the water heater’s serial number, which generally indicate a month and year. Any unit that is around 15 years old, or older, will likely need to be replaced. This is because older water heaters are not as energy efficient, and they are also far more likely to malfunction, or even quit working entirely, once they reach about 15 years old.
For tank water heaters, you should do a water flush, if it has not been used over the winter. Flushing the tank will remove any built-up sediment or corrosion. When sediment sits in the tank, the tank requires more energy to run and wears out much faster. To flush your water heater tank, fasten a hose to the tank’s spigot and run the hose outside to a place where you can drain the water. Then, simply turn on the spigot and run the water until it appears clear and flows freely. Of course, if the water won’t drain at all, you have a bigger problem.
For tankless water heaters, clean and descale the combustion chamber according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Test For Toilet Tank Leaks
If you want to test your toilet for tank leaks, simply add some food coloring to the water in the tank and wait. If you can see the colored water in the toilet bowl within 30 minutes, you have a leak. These tank leaks can be extremely costly if not repaired. While you’re there, you can also inspect the toilet bowl itself for any cracks or leaks.
While you’re inspecting the bathroom, you should also ensure that the toilet is flushing correctly. Whenever the toilet won’t flush without a jiggle to the handle, or your needing to hold the handle down, you probably need to replace some parts. Usually this type of repair is inexpensive.
Inspect All Filters
Now is a great time to inspect or change all water filters in your home. Sediment filters should have new cartridges after sitting unused all winter, as should fridge water filters. If you have water softeners, you can change these too.
First, turn off the main water supply. Unscrew the outside casing and remove the filter cartridge. Next, remove the O-ring and lubricate it using clean plumber’s faucet grease. Replace the O-ring, place the new filter cartridge onto the center knob and screw the outside casing back on. Finally, turn your water back on.
Inspect All Shower Heads
Look for mineral deposits, like calcium, around the holes of the shower heads. These deposits look like white dust or film. Having hard water can cause clogs in all of your fixtures and pipes, due to such deposits. Consider water softeners to help prevent this problem.
To clean mineral deposits off shower heads, use white vinegar and a thin sharp tool, such as a toothpick or piece of wire, to clean and free-up the holes. You can also soak the shower head in vinegar, but this method may cause damage to the finish, and is not recommended for this reason.
Inspect The Sump Pump
The spring months typically bring a lot of rain, so, if your home has one, it’s time to inspect and test the sump pump. To test the pump, pour several gallons of water into the pit and wait. If the pump turns on automatically and drains the water, you should be good to go. If, however, the pump doesn’t turn on, the water doesn’t fully drain or the pump does not shut off after draining, you will need to engage a plumber for repairs or replacement.
Inspect All Drains
Drains are another biggie when it comes to spring home maintenance. To test and prep your drains, pour about a gallon of water into each drain to fill the P-traps. Filling the traps with fresh water will prevent bad odors from sewer and stagnant water. If the water doesn’t drain properly, you may have a clog. You should also use a snake to test all your floor drains for clogs and backup. When floor drains don’t function properly, they can be a flooding hazard.
Get Ready for Spring
We hope these plumbing tips have been useful to you as you get your home ready for spring. As you go about your plumbing maintenance, remember to give us a call if you need assistance. Get in touch with Autry Plumbing today for fast and friendly service.