With being a homeowner, there are many things that you are bound to face and solve, one of which is plumbing issues. This is especially true when homeowners don’t take the necessary precautions and practice regular maintenance in their plumbing system. Have you ever heard “out of sight, out of mind”? This certainly applies to our plumbing system. With it mostly operating in the background, providing us with all the comfort that we need (can you imagine not having soothing warm water during winter days? Or not having to worry about disposing of human waste?), many home homeowners tend to “forget” about it until a plumbing issue comes into play.
The usual wear and tear and unfortunately, unavoidable circumstances but lack of knowledge cause damage to our plumbing system. Think about this scenario, you walk into your basement room and suddenly, everything is drenched and cannot be salvaged – there is a major leakage in your heater. Or how about you trying to fix a seemingly simple pipe leakage in your kitchen, armed with YouTube videos, you felt confident that you can fix it, but before you know it, your pipe bursts and you don’t even know where to turn off the main water supply! The two scenarios might be a bit dramatic, but you will be surprised that those things do really happen in real life. With homeowners not having the basic plumbing skills and knowledge, a small issue could turn into a gargantuan one (especially with those DIY fixes). To help homeowners, Same Day Pros asked professional plumbers for some plumbing tips and tricks. These tips could even save you from spending a lot on plumbing services! From the most basic of knowing where the water main is to maintenance tips, we have them covered.
Before giving out some useful plumbing tips, let us first discuss how to recognize a plumbing emergency. While some problems can wait, some issues are best left to the experts and need to be handled ASAP. Most of the tips that we will be giving out will not cover emergency issues because you need a professional plumber to handle them.
What are the plumbing emergencies?
- A sudden big jump in your water bill
A small jump from time to time is normal, but when your water bill has suddenly tripled and you can’t find any signs of leaks, then this warrants an emergency. Note that not all pipe burst means puddles somewhere in your home. Sometimes, leakages happen in the interior or beneath your home, causing sneaky and serious damage over time. Of course, you can try to investigate, but even if you were able to trace the source of the issue, it is most likely too big for you to handle, call a plumber to inspect and do the necessary repairs as soon as you see that humongous water bill.
- You notice a nasty “rotten egg” smell
Aside from its irritating, a nasty odor especially the “rotten egg” type of smell could mean that your sewage is backing up into your home. This is an emergency because it poses not only health risks to you and your loved ones but it could even affect your home’s foundation.
- Discolored water
Aside from the nasty smell, discolored water should be a cause of alarm. If brown water is coming out of your faucet, it could either mean that your pipes are corroded or blocked. Avoid using the water as again, this poses a health risk. Have your water assessed by the pros.
- Frozen pipes
If you haven’t done some winterizing for your pipes, then you will need a professional to handle the thawing and ensure that your pipes will not burst.
- Burst pipes
A burst pipe is a job for professional plumbers. This plumbing emergency can leave water damage that could really put a dent in your pocket plus it is also an electrical hazard. Call a trusted plumber near you and while waiting, make sure to proceed with stopping the flow by turning off the water main supply valve. It is also best if you remove as much water as you can and move furniture to a dry area.
Tip: Make sure to document everything so that you can file for insurance.
- Water heater malfunction
This is certainly a pressing issue, especially during the cold winter months and you some elderly or young kids and home. Also, if the water heater failure is accompanied by a smell of gas, then this further raises the alarm.
- Overflowing toilet
If a good old plunger can’t help you and an overflow of water is happening, treat it as an emergency and call in the pros. Don’t forget that your toilet is one of the most used fixtures in your home, so it is not surprising that issues like this could happen.
Here are the top 7 plumbing tricks and tips that you should know as a homeowner to avoid any plumbing disasters:
- Prevention is better the cure
Not everything can be washed away in your sink or can be flushed away in your toilet. The effects will not be seen right away but they will pile up, items could stick together or these things could block your pipes
Toilets are meant for human waste and not as an alternative to trash cans. Properly disposing sanitary napkins, diapers, wipes (yes even those that claim to be “flushable”), surgical bandages, and more would go a long way in avoiding some toilet issues. When it comes to your shower, invest in a drain cover or protector so that the hair will be trapped out and blockage will be prevented.
For your sink, always remember that any type of fats, oils, and grease are big no-nos. Even your potato peels, coffee grounds, eggshells, rice, pasta, and other food scraps. These materials could either solidify, swell up as they absorb water, or build-up, creating a blockage.
- Never ever ignore leaks
Aside from the annoying dripping sound, a small leakage problem could turn into a big, puddle of mess and cause serious damage to properties.
Leakages are usually caused by clogged lines, damaged pipe joints, excess water pressure, and more. Although not all leakage can be easily spotted especially if it is happening beneath your home, you can still do regular checks on your fixtures, faucets, sink rims, inside the toilet tank, and the drain body of your shower.
If you also notice that a part of your lawn is suddenly lusher and greener than the rest of the grass, it is a warning sign that your buried water line may be leaking (if the leakage is really extensive, puddles of water will be seen on the surface).
Other signs of hidden leakage are wall or ceiling discoloration or water stains, a musty smell due to the humidity from the leakage, and bulging wallpaper or bubbling paint.
Additional tip: Use a Teflon tape or Plumper’s tape to prevent leakage around the fittings and joints by sealing the pipe threads. Just simply wrap the plumber’s tape about three times around the pipe thread. Use the white one for common plumbing projects.
- Know where the main drain line is located and know how to close it
The main drain line is typically located in the basement. When it comes to shutting it off, don’t fret as it is very easy. Knowing where it is and how to turn it off is very useful when you want to stop the flow of water, like in a case of a burst pipe.
- The plunger is your best friend
When it comes to clogged toilets, drains, and sinks, you got a friend with your trusty plunger. It is cheap, efficient, and easy to use, but note that this is only for clearing minor clogs. If it doesn’t work, call in your plumber.
Additional tip: stay away from liquid drain cleaners! Believe it or not, the chemicals of drain cleaners could erode or harm your plumbing infrastructure, doing more harm than good.
In addition to a plunger, you can also use a wet and dry vacuum to dislodge clogs due to small and hard objects
- Don’t over tighten your plumbing fittings
This is one of the pitfalls of homeowners doing some DIY plumbing projects – over-tightening plumbing connections and fittings. Many end up breaking screws and bolts by doing so, thus incurring extra costs.
- Be extra careful when pounding nails or drilling holes in your walls, ceiling, or floors
Make sure that there are no drainage or supply pipes behind your target work area or you might accidentally puncture your pipes. You can locate those pipes by using a stud finder.
- Extend your tap’s life
Understandably, homeowners want to ensure that there are no dripping faucets and the tendency is that their taps are turned off as tight as it goes. This is wrong and is bad for your tap’s seal since it adds increased pressure.
When turning the tap off, feel the natural stopping point, and don’t go beyond it. Anything too much is simply not good.
Know your basics
Our plumbing system is complex and not every plumbing issue can be resolved by some DIY fixes. But as they say, knowledge is power, the simple tips, and tricks mentioned above will go a long way in avoiding bigger plumbing issues.
As always, if you are unsure of how to go about any plumbing issue, call a trusted plumber near you, especially for plumbing emergencies. As an additional tip, don’t forget to ask for a license and proof of insurance so you are well covered. If you could also have a go-to plumber on your speed dial even before a plumbing emergency could happen, that would be better to save some time looking for one during emergencies.
Need a plumber? Find the best plumbers near you here.