Things Every Homeowner Should Know About Plumbing
Owning a home is a big responsibility. Naturally, there are some things a homeowner should know to make sure his or her home stays in top shape. An important step toward being a good homeowner, or even a savvy renter, is understanding how your home works.
There are many things that homeowners must know about their plumbing systems in order to understand when and if a plumbing emergency exists. By taking the time to understand the basics of your plumbing system, you can avoid making unnecessary repair requests and even prevent further damage in your home when a plumbing disaster strikes. Let’s get started!
The 4 “Where’s” of Plumbing
Knowing where all your plumbing is located is crucial. You want to know where your pipes are behind any walls you want to tear down or where you want to hang things. Invest in a stud finder can help. These gadgets are affordable and easy to use and can go a long way in helping you to avoid incurring costly plumbing damages.
Aside from that, it is also important that you know where your water valves are. When you first move into a home you should always familiarize yourself with where your breaker boxes are, hot water heater, and water valves. This way if you ever experience a leak or break, you can quickly turn off the water source before further damage occurs.
Main Shutoff Valve
The water main is the point of entry for water into your home. It is generally located in the basement near the water heater. If a plumbing emergency strikes, the first thing you will want to do is shut off the main water supply to your home. The water main can stop the flow of water into your home if necessary.
Faucet Shutoff Valve
Most sinks, showers, water heaters, and toilets are equipped with their own shutoff valves. Knowing where this valve is comes in handy if leaks happen in specific plumbing fixtures that are not present elsewhere in the home. Leaks can cause tremendous damage and waste money. A massive leak will be apparent, but any sign of discoloration on the ceilings and walls can indicate a smaller hole that needs attention.
Well or Water Line
Whether you get your water from the city’s main line or your own personal well, you will need to know where the main line exists that connects your home to the flow of water. This is particularly important as homeowners are responsible for any problems that happen with their main water line. Always know where your water lines are located to avoid damaging them, especially if you plan to do construction on your home in the future.
Sewer Clean-Out Valve
Your clean out valve is a white cap that can be opened to give you or a plumber access to the inside of the pipes leading from your house to the sewer main line. The valve is around 3 to 4 inches in diameter and will be made of plastic or metal. Most clean out valves are white plastic.
The 4 “What’s” of Plumbing
In addition to being able to locate certain fixtures, homeowners must understand a few basic facts about their plumbing systems. Knowing these plumbing ground rules can help you avoid catastrophic damage down the road:
Some items belong in the toilet and others that do not. It may come as a surprise to learn that even things marked as “flushable” on the package are not, in fact, flushable. Make sure to only flush waste and toilet paper down the drain, and take care of any leaks or problems with the toilet as soon as possible. The golden rule of flushing objects down the toilet is simple: Do not do it unless it’s human waste or toilet paper.
Similarly, the garbage disposal is only designed to handle certain things. Oil, coffee grinds, and grease are some of the worst offenders. Likewise, hair, food debris and vegetable peelings are just a few examples of things that can seriously clog your sink.
What Needs Maintenance?
Plumbing professionals agree that it is important to have regularly scheduled maintenance for your system at least once every two years. Keep detailed records of when your plumbing maintenance occurred to avoid repair requests in the future.
What’s Water Pressure?
High water pressure is the number-one cause of leaks in U.S. homes. Installing a water pressure gauge is a simple way to keep tabs on water pressure levels. If the water pressure in your home is too high, installing a pressure-reducing valve can lower the pressure to a safer level. Water pressure levels should range from 50-60 psi.
The 4 “How’s” of Plumbing
Plumbing problems can strike when you least expect them. But not all plumbing issues that arise require professional service to solve. By knowing the following four plumbing “how’s,” you can save on unnecessary repair requests for DIY jobs:
How to Remove Clogs & Clean Drains
Rule number one when it comes to clog removal — never use chemical cleaners on your drains. Hair, food particles, and waste products can easily cause a clogged drain. If you do have a clogged drain, it is essential to use the proper method to clear the clog. Like the “flushable” products we mentioned earlier, these chemicals can do more harm than good when it comes to removing blockages. Instead, use a plunger, plumber’s snake, or natural means to clean and clear your drains.
How to Recognize & Fix Hard Water
You may have heard from friends and acquaintances that they are dealing with “hard water” in their homes. Maybe you have heard the term “hard water” couldn’t quite understand what that is. Well, when water falls from the sky as rain, it is very pure, “delicate” and free of minerals. As it passes through the earth’s crust and the many minerals and rocks you find there it picks up calcium, salts, and magnesium.
Water “hardness” is measured in grains per gallon, the levels on this scale range from 1 to higher than 10. It is important to remember that hard water is not unhealthy for consumption. The issues caused by hard water have to do with various issues it can cause throughout the home.
How to Un-Jam the Garbage Disposal
As a rule of thumb, before you start the unjamming process, you must switch off the garbage disposal power and the circuit breaker too. The garbage disposal has a port on the bottom side of the disposer. This is where to insert the Allen wrench. Next, turn the wrench clockwise and anticlockwise. On both sides turn it until you reach an obstruction.
If you continue to do this, you will feel the motor shaft begin to spin, and that should let you know that you have cleared the jam.
How to Fix Low Water Pressure
Solving low water pressure does not always require a professional. Too little water pressure can indicate a leak or blockage in the plumbing system. Sometimes the solution could be as simple as making sure the water meter valve is open, cleaning your sink aerators, or ensuring the main water valve is open. Too much pressure can damage pipes and typically requires the assistance of a professional.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Do Not Forget to Turn Off the Water
When embarking on a DIY plumbing project, many homeowners fail to shut off the water supply. If the problem is not detected in time and the water is not turned off quickly, you can expect some flooding and water damage. Obviously, this can be a very costly error, far more than it would have cost to hire a professional plumber in the first place.
Avoid Over Tightening
When repairing plumbing it can be tempting to tighten bolts as much as you can. Doing so does not decrease the chances of future leaks but it does decrease your ability to fix them if they do occur. Over tightening easily leads to stripping and breaking of bolts and screws, making them difficult to work with in the future. Instead of over tightening, use plumber’s tape as extra insurance.
Be Sure That You Have the Correct Tools
Plumbers make the job look easy because they always have the right tools. DIYers often try to skate by and make-do with the tools they have on hand. Trying to remove an old galvanized nipple with an ordinary pipe wrench or slip joint pliers can break the pipe and leave the threads in the wall. Likewise, shoving a wire hanger down a clogged drain will most likely not unclog it, and can actually harm more than it helps. If you lose the item you are sticking in there, or a piece breaks off, you now have even more pipe buildup to worry about.
Be Sure to Have Spare Parts
DIYers often make the mistake of buying just the part they need for the repair. However, if one part is worn, chances are other parts are worn as well. If you do not replace all worn parts at the same time, you will probably end up with faulty plumbing again. That will mean a second trip to the hardware store and another disassembly/reassembly project. Most peripheral plumbing parts are cheap, so make it a rule to buy them all upfront rather than replacing just a single part.
Do Not Forget How to Put Things Back Together
This might seem like an obvious precaution, but it is very easy to forget how your drain trap is supposed to be assembled when the pieces are scattered across your floor. While newly purchased plumbing pieces generally come with instructions or at least a picture to follow, if you are taking your drain apart to clear a clog, you might not have a reference point when it is time to reassemble everything. Mixing up the pieces of your fixtures or forgetting a seal could cause damaging leaks. Sometimes the simple precaution of taking a picture before you tear your plumbing apart can be enough to save you from expensive and frustrating headaches later.
When to Contact a Plumbing Professional
If you need help with your garbage disposal, sinks, or any other plumbing issue, call Best Plumbing Services at 951-788-1321 for professional drain cleaning methods. Located in Riverside, California we are family owned and operated with over 10 years of experience. We take pride in our service and expect each job to be completed as if it were our own home or business. Our Licensed Plumbers and Technicians will be professional, clean and polite.