We here at Your Plumber West Jordan strive to help every customers’ plumbing system work the very best that it can. We know, though, that no one wants to have a plumbing emergency. This post is full of things that homeowners can do regularly to help extend the life of their homes plumbing, and some ways to catch problems before they become an emergency.

The Pipes

There are several things homeowners can do to extend the life of their pipes and detect problems early. The first measure is to make sure the water pressure of your home isn’t too high. Low water pressure can be really annoying, because it can stop appliances like the dishwasher from working. High water pressure, on the other hand, can damage many parts of a homes plumbing. Some of the parts overly high water pressure can damage include pipes, valves, fixtures, and water lines. Many homes here in West Jordan have water pressure regulators, so adjusting the water pressure is generally easy. In order to check what psi your water pressure is, simply get a test gauge at your local home depot or lowes. On average the psi of your homes water should be between 40 – 65. If you need help testing the psi of the water pressure of your home, your plumber can help you with this.

Another thing homeowners can do to protect their pipes is to insulate any pipes outside the home that are not buried in the ground. These pipes have no protection from the elements and are likely to freeze, thaw, and refreeze during the cold months. If you insulate your pipes and find that the pipes are still freezing, you may also need to add a strip or two of heat tape underneath the pipes insulation. Both heat tape and pipe insulation can be found at either Lowes or Homedepot, and most other local plumbing or hardware stores. Supplies can also be purchased online if you don’t have a store near you that sells it. Just make sure not to leave heat tape plugged in during the non-cold months, as leaving it plugged in year-round can cause it to burn out.

If the pipes are buried in the ground, then it is important to make sure that tree roots and bush roots have not choked off the pipes or grown into them. The roots of plants that reach the depth of pipes have a tendency to grow towards pipes, seeking water and nutrients. Sometimes if there is a little bit of space between two pipes, or a crack in a pipe, then the roots will grow into these openings and brake them wider as they grow. They also block the inside of the pipe. There are two things a homeowner can do to make sure their pipes are clear of roots. The first is to find out what trees or shrub are planted around the pipes. Certain of these plants are more likely to cause problems with pipes than others. It is also important that if you are going to plant a bush or tree that is particularly hard on pipes to plant it far from your pipes. The second thing that homeowners should do is have a video inspection done of their pipes.

We recommend a video inspection of your homes pipes about once a year, especially if you have an older home. Video inspections can tell you if roots are constriction, blocking, or otherwise taking over a section of pipes. They can also tell if there is another kind of blockage or clog. Video inspection of pipes can be done on any plumbing, and Your Plumber West Jordan recommends you have both the house and ground pipes checked over. When a video inspection is done, your plumber will be able to spot any places where the pipes are too thin and likely to cause problems soon. This means you can have pipes replaced before they break. If a pipe is about to break, you can save paying for the damage leaking or fountaining water from a broken pipe will do by replacing it first.

A video inspection of pipes can also make sure your pipes are made from the right material. For example in some older homes the pipes are made out of what is called ‘orangeburg,’ which is basically tar paper. Because these pipes are made out of a type of paper, they can dissolve or collapse as they wear out.

The homeowner should also be doing a visual inspection of any visible piping or water lines. This inspection should be done at least 2 – 3 times a year, but the homeowner can do on their own easily if desired. Simply look everywhere pipes connect to walls. For example, the pipes under every sink, behind every toilet, the back of some fridges, and so on. Just look for dripping water or water damage in the areas around the pipe. It shouldn’t take more than a minute or two per each area, and can be done at the same time as the next maintenance step.

Water turn offs

Having valves inside your home to turn off water in case of an emergency is important. The most common places to have these valves are near the water heater, under sinks, and behind showers and tubs. Every home should have at least one set of water shut off valves. The most important places are where the hot and cold water starts and then gets piped to the rest of the house. To check if these shut offs are working, simply turn them to closed, and then try to run the sink. Give it a few minutes, as there may be a little water in the line. If after a few minutes water does not stop flowing, then your valve does not work. If the water stops working, then the valve works fine. Your plumber can help if you cannot find the shut offs, or if they are not working.

Drains, Traps, and Garbage Disposals

This check can also be done at the same time as the other two, and be done relatively quickly. Most people know if their drains are not working, because the drain backs up and water either does not drain at all or does so incredibly slowly. A partially blocked drain might not be slower, but you may hear a strange gurgling sound. If you aren’t sure if you drain is working correctly or not, just pour a bunch of water on the drain and see if it goes down quietly and quickly.

Garbage disposals attached to sink drains also fit under this category. Most of the time it is immediately obvious if a disposal is clogged. There is a preventative step to help keep a garbage disposal from clogging. Simply drop a cube of frozen white vinegar in the disposal when it is turned on. This should be done regularly, to help clean out anything that may be stuck in there, including some bacteria.

Along with the garbage disposal, the traps under sinks should be regularly cleaned out to prevent bacteria, mold, and junk from accumulating there.

Water Pumps and Heaters

Two of the more neglected fixtures in our homes tend to be water heaters and sump pumps. Both need a yearly check to make sure they are working. Sump pumps are the easier of the two to check, as all a homeowner needs to do is pour water into the well of the pump and see if it pumps the water out. If it does, it’s still working. If the pump does not get rid of the water, then the pump needs to be fixed or replaced. Contact your plumber to see if the pump is fixable or needs to be replaced.

Having the water heater checked out should be done once a year, and needs to be done by a plumber. There are a couple different ways that water heaters can go bad, and some of them are really dangerous. One such example is that the water heater can explode. There was a water heater in Arizona, for example, that exploded and shot up into the air. The water heater went through the roof and was found about 300 ft away from the house. When it exploded, it also shifted the house three inches west from the foundation. This sort of explosion happens when a water heater builds up too much pressure. There is a valve that lets off this pressure, which your plumber can use to help maintain the correct pressure in your water heater. Sometimes, however, this valve malfunctions.

Of course water heaters can have other problems, like leaking. Electric water heaters can also have the heating coils melt down if not serviced often enough. This happens when minerals inside the water collect on the coils of the water heater and build up over time. This causes the coils to work harder to heat the water, and can make them burn out or melt. Having the water heater flushed out once a year can help get rid of extra sediment. A buildup of sediment inside any type of water heater also causes that water heater to work harder to heat the water. This means the owner is going to end up paying more for either the gas or electric used to heat the water. So having your water heater flushed can actually help save money.

These are a only a few things you can do around your home to help things flow smoothly, but they are important. If you have any questions about maintaining your plumbing, contact Your Plumber West Jordan. We are here to help with your plumbing, both commercial and residential.