Essential Plumbing Tips for Homeowners

Essential Plumbing Tips for Homeowners

When it comes time to start looking at projects for your spring honey-do list, the dreaded plumbing projects are often some of the most intimidating. Whether changing out a fixture or cleaning out your garbage disposal, homeowners are typically very likely to put off taking care of the plumbing systems in the home due to the complexity and possibilities of doing real damage. 

9 Plumbing Items To Know as a Homeowner

1) Locate Your Water Main Shutoff Valve

The water main is the main line of water that comes into your house and should have a shutoff valve. Because it is the point of entrance to your home, this shutoff valve will cut off water to your entire home. 

It is often found in the basement or crawlspace under the house or may be located near the water heater. Knowing the location of your shutoff valve is imperative. 

If your plumbing systems are failing catastrophically, or you must do work that includes the waterline, you must be able to stop the flow of water to where you are working. 

2) Unclog Drains

Unclogging drains is an essential skill for a homeowner. Every home is bound to have a clogged sink or shower drain at some point over time. 

You can't just pour a cap full of drain opener down the sink drain and expect it to work immediately. Some drain cleaning chemicals can do damage to your pipes over time.  

It is typically best to start by removing any blockage manually by using a plunger or a snake. If neither of those things works out, it may be time to resort to using a  chemical drain cleaner. 

Chemical drain cleaners use ingredients such as lye or oxidizers to cause chemical reactions by adding or subtracting electrons from the clogged material. This provides heat and thins out or dissolves grease or organic materials, freeing your pipes. Liquid drain cleaners can be VERY hazardous; please read and follow all the manufacturer's instructions.

3) Garbage Disposals

We can write volumes on what you can and can’t put in the garbage disposal. (We actually have, here.) We often receive calls from people complaining about issues they are experiencing with their garbage disposal. 

Garbage disposals can't handle everything. You should not put the following things in the garbage disposal:

  • Coffee Grounds
  • Grease
  • Eggshells
  • Onion Skins
  • Potato Peels
  • Hard Foods
  • Dry Expandable Foods
  • Trash

4) Watch What You Flush

The only thing that should be flushed down a toilet is human waste and toilet paper. Paper towels, feminine products, baby wipes, and cotton swabs do not break down like toilet paper and can, in some cases, expand and cause clogs. No one wants to spend a day trying to plunge into a stinky toilet because you used paper towels instead of toilet paper.

Also, it is essential to make sure that your toilet is in working order. Listen for constant water running, look out for leaks, and check to see that the flushing mechanism isn’t bound up. This could save money in the long run. 

Please Note: Some municipalities have regulations regarding “flushable wipes” as they are causing issues for the treatment facilities.

5) Insulate Your Pipes From the Cold

Freezing temperatures can quickly turn into a plumbing nightmare if left unchecked. Water damage from a busted pipe can lead to thousands of dollars. Having a plan to winterize your pipes before temperatures drop is a good idea to prevent significant issues.

Insulating pipes, crawl spaces, attics, and basements with simple foam sleeves is a good start. There are also electric heat strips that you can install for further protection.

6) Watch for Pipes

It is not that hard to run into pipes in the walls when working around the house. If you are planning to drill into the wall, note where any plumbing could be. 

Hitting a copper pipe with a nail or screw could quickly turn into a massive leak. Most lines may be found with a stud finder. If in doubt, you can use an endoscopic camera that can be used on walls.

7) Inspect Pipes for Leaks

Water leaks can happen anywhere and can be hard to find. A few things to look for when inspecting for water leaks are:

  • Mildew or mold
  • Dark spots on ceiling tiles
  • Musty smells
  • Unexplainable humidity
  • Puddles

8) Fix Dripping Faucets

Dripping faucets can be hyper-annoying and is one of the most common issues in plumbing. The drip drip drip of a faucet at 2 a.m. would be enough to make anyone lose their mind (and can be costly). 

These faucet issues are often caused by pressure issues or failing components in the faucet itself. Most faucets are either cartridge-based or ball faucets and are repairable.

9. Know When To Call a Professional Plumber

Sometimes, plumbing projects and emergencies should be left to a professional. Having a professional plumber assess your needs and repair your plumbing system can take the weight of plumbing off of your shoulders. 

Barlow Plumbing is the reliable option for your plumbing job in Buncombe County, NC, if you need a professional plumbing company with the necessary licenses. We have years of experience installing bathroom plumbing, addressing repairs, and upgrading homes.

Contact the Barlow Plumbing team now to learn more about how we can help you!

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