17 Plumbing Tips For Homeowners
1. Know how to turn the water main off in case of an emergency leak.
Water can do a lot of damage to a home in very little time.
Plumbing leaks happen to every home, be ready to turn off the water if you have one.
The water main is usually next to the home where the pipe enters the home
There is a shut-off valve in the pipe, usually turned off by moving it to a 90 degree angle from the pipe.
Turning the valve inline with the pipe is on, at a 90 degree angle to it is off.
For a video instruction see our post on “How to Turn Off Your Water Main.“
2. Know where the shut off valves are for every faucet and toilet.
Test them several times every couple of months to make sure they open and close and shut off the water properly.
3. Monitor your water pressure.
High water pressure can do damage to your pipes and appliances and cause catastrophic water leaks.
You should already have a water pressure regulator at your water main where it meets the house, at the same spot as your main shut-off valve.
Safe water pressure is between 40 and 70 psi. Unsafe water pressure is 80 psi or higher.
High pressure sometimes provides warning signs like hammering sounds in the pipes when you turn the water on.
4. Keep your drains moving.
Don’t put anything in your drains besides human waste and toilet paper.
5. Avoid putting food into your garbage disposal.
Food can buildup deep in your sewer pipe and cause major blockages. Garbage disposals are for grinding up small food debris. Put the rest in the trash bin.
Never pour grease, oils, or fats down the drain. These will almost certainly cause clogs and cost you money to fix them.
Never flush baby wipes, paper towels, of anything else that can lead to costly clogs.
6. Check regularly for leaks
Inspect toilets, showerheads, faucets, the washing machine, and outdoor hose bibs.
Check under sinks to make sure there’s no slow leaks damaging your cabinets.
7. Fix dripping faucets and leaky toilets.
These can waste a lot of water and can one day burst into bigger leaks, when you might not be home.
8. Get an annual plumbing inspection.
Your water and sewer lines should be inspected every year as well as all shut-off valves and faucets.
9. Flush your water heater tank annually.
Remove hard water sediment and extend the life of the appliance.
Consider replacing it if it’s more than 15 years old to avoid potential leaks and floods.
10. protect pipes from freezing weather.
If you have exposed pipes outdoors, then wrap them with outdoor pipe insulation.
Disconnect garden hoses in the winter and turn off the water vale to them.
Shut down your sprinkler systems for the winter. If you have a drip system, drain the lines of water.
11. Protect your home from possible flood damage while you’re not home.
Install a water flow security system such as the Moen Flo, which automatically turns off the water main when it senses a leak.
These systems also give you smartphone access to control the water.
For more info and a link to the device see our blog post, “Automatic leak detector & shut off.“
12. Avoid odors.
Pour a pitcher or bucket of water into drains that you seldom use. This keeps water in the P-trap and prevents fouls odors from entering into your home.
13. Keep hair out of the drains.
Cover bath and shower drains with a hair catcher strainer to prevent hair clogs from building up in your drain.
14. Keep trees clear of your water or sewer lines.
Tree roots are the number one cause of broken water mains and sewer lines. These can be very expensive repairs that can be avoided by removing or avoiding planting trees near these lines.
15. Regularly test and check your sprinkler systems.
Check for leaks or overly long watering times that can waste water and increase water costs
16. Invest in a good quality plunger.
Have it handy for use to clear minor clogs in toilets and sink drains.
17. Inspect plumbing before you buy a home.
Whenever buying a home, always be sure to have a water and sewer line inspection while in escrow and BEFORE you close the deal.
Otherwise, you might find yourself buying a home that needs extensive water or sewer line repairs that could cost thousands of dollars to repairs.
A typical “home inspection” will not test your plumbing. You need a licensed plumber to properly test the plumbing systems of any home.