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DIY Plumbing Maintenance: Think Prevention, Not Repair

For the past three weeks, DIY plumbing was our topic. What if you could perform DIY plumbing maintenance and take preventive measures to lessen the need for DIY plumbing repairs? It’s almost fall, and time to look around the house for potential plumbing problems. Do you have time for water damage from leaks, burst pipes, or clogged drains? If your answer is no, let’s wrap up this plumbing series and talk prevention!


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Toilet Maintenance

We talked a couple of weeks ago about the fact that leaky toilets are a common plumbing problem.  These leaks waste water and cost you money. To test for leaks, put a little food coloring in the toilet tank and let it sit overnight without flushing. If there is color in the toilet bowl the next morning, it is a sign that your flush valve is bad. To prevent water waste and save money on your water bill, replace it right away. If you notice that your toilet is running, it generally means that there is an issue with the fill valve. A leak in either valve costs money and requires replacement of the valve.

Sink and Shower Maintenance

Kitchen sinks accumulate grease in the drain pipes. On occasion, to soften and loosen the accumulated grease, soap, and food particles, flush drains with several gallons of boiling water. If you don’t want to deal with the boiling water, there are also commercial products available to help prevent clogged sinks.

In the bathroom, clogged drains are caused by hair and soap accumulation. Use boiling water, commercial products, or a wet vac to clear drains in the bathroom. Housewife How To’s explains the steps for using a shop vac as well other solutions and preventive measures for clogs. They suggest the use of strainers in all drains and the cleaning of drains as a regular part of your cleaning routine.

Another preventive measure is to check the caulk around all sinks, tubs, and showers. Caulk not only holds your sinks in place, it prevents water from leaking under the sink. If caulk is cracked or missing, your cabinets are soon wet.  To prevent expensive damage, re-caulk as needed.

Water Heater Maintenance

There are several things you can do to prevent issues with the water heater. To remove residue from the bottom, take the time to flush it out. This not only protects the bottom, it prolongs the life of this relatively expensive appliance. Check all connections for leaks. If there are signs of leaks or rust, call a plumber for further inspection and any needed repairs. Water heater leaks can cause a lot of water damage in a very short time and are generally not DIY plumbing projects.

Outdoor Faucet Maintenance

To ensure you are not unnecessarily watering the grass around them, check all outdoor faucets. If leaks are found, replace handles and washers. If you live in a cold climate, drain all outdoor faucets for the winter.

Outdoor faucet

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DIY Plumbing Maintenance – Shut-off Valves

You need to know where all the shut-off valves are located. If there is a water leak in your home, knowing the location the water shut off valves is crucial. There is a main shut off valve that is usually outside. This valve shuts off the entire water supply to your house. Knowing where it is located prepares you for quick action in a water emergency. There is a water shut off valve under each sink and at each toilet. If your water issue is isolated in one of those areas, it is enough to shut the water off at the offending sink or toilet. This also true for the water lines to your washing machine.

By adding preventive DIY plumbing maintenance to your routine, you get to know your house. This prepares you for any unexpected plumbing issues. Adding home warranty coverage to your appliances is  another preventive measure you can take to reduce the cost of water heater or other appliance repair or replacement. 

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