Many people have an annual spring cleaning routine that they follow every year to get their home ready for the rest of the year. The concept of an annual deep clean for houses has been around for a very long time, and it’s a great way to freshen up your home. But, when it comes to their plumbing systems, people are typically not as diligent. After all, many key plumbing systems are located out of sight, and it’s easy to forget about them until something goes wrong. This is not a good strategy. If you follow these ten annual plumbing cleaning tips, you can catch minor issues before they develop into larger problems.
- Fixing Up Your Sink Faucet
A sink faucet can get clogged and dirty over time, and we rely on our faucets every day. There is usually an aerator located where the water emerges, and it can be unscrewed by hand and cleaned. There are faucets that need a special tool to remove the aerator, and this is typically supplied with the faucet. Removing the aerator involves small parts that are easy to use, put the plug in the sink to prevent these parts from falling into the drain, and put the parts in a dish. If you’ve never done this before, take plenty of pictures on your phone, and it will be easier to reassemble. When the aerator parts are removed, they can be soaked in vinegar and scrubbed with a small soft brush to remove any debris. If you cannot get the aerator clean, they are inexpensive and easy to replace. Simply take your old aerator to the store and ask for a new replacement that will fit your faucet.
- Maintaining Your Showerhead
Many people notice that their showerhead has a strange spray pattern or maybe delivering less water than normal. This is typically caused by a buildup of sediment or mineral content inside the showerhead. In many cases, this is easy to fix, place the showerhead in a plastic bag, and fill the bag with vinegar for 30 minutes. Then wipe the showerhead clean, re-attach it to the water hose and run cold water through it for a couple of minutes. If there is a lot of debris inside the showerhead, you may have to repeat this procedure a few times or leave the showerhead in the vinegar for a longer period.
- Checking for Fresh Water Leaks
Take a tour around your home turning off all the faucets, and don’t use any water at all. Make sure the ice maker isn’t making ice, and the water heater is not filling. Don’t use the dishwasher or washing machine and make sure the irrigation system is off. The locate the water meter. If the numbers are changing or the dial is running, there could be a leak somewhere in your home. If you want to double check, take a reading and then take another reading an hour later. If water has been used, you now know how much water you’re losing per hour. These water leaks are often small, hidden, and hard to locate without the help of a local certified plumber. If you want to find a water leak yourself, there are likely locations in the next step.
- Common Fresh Water Leak Locations
Fresh water leaks can often be found in areas under your sink, around toilet bases, near a water heater, or perhaps behind your refrigerator. Other hard to reach areas include the water supply lines under your home and pipes located behind walls. If you’re searching for a hidden leak, pay attention to the colors of your walls and look for water stains or signs of water damage. Outside, look at the areas around hose bibs and check your irrigation system connections for water leaks. If you still can’t find the source of the leak, it’s time to call your local certified plumber to find the leak for you.
- Checking the Supply Valve
While you’re making your way around the home searching for a water leak, it’s the perfect time to check your supply valves. Make sure that any valves supplying water to the sinks and toilets in your home can open and close normally. The last thing that you need during a water leak is to discover that your supply valves cannot close.
- Check the Inside Drain Pipe
Take a flashlight and check the pipes under each sink for damage and water leaks. Look for water staining under the pipes and discoloration at the plumbing joints. The surface of any cabinets, walls, or floors under or near a water leak may be damaged. On an upper floor, this could have affected the ceiling of the room below.
- Check for Drain and Sewer Leaks
If you have a home with a crawlspace, get inside and check the pipes, framing, and the subfloor. Take a look at the areas under the pipes for any signs that you have a water leak. If there is a leak, you may notice a musty odor, elevated moisture levels, and mold growth. For this reason, it’s a good idea to wear a mask and gloves when checking this area and take a flashlight.
- Check the Drains
If you’ve noticed your drains are running slowly, you could have a vent problem. Drain some water and listen closely; you may hear a gurgling noise that indicates a partial clog. This can be removed with a cup plunger or a plumbing snake before the clog blocks the pipe completely.
- Water Heater Maintenance
The best time to schedule water heater maintenance is during the spring months. If you haven’t kept up with the maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual, it’s not too late. Professional maintenance by a local certified plumber is the best option if you want to protect your water heater.
- Check the Toilets
A toilet water leak can waste a great deal of water, but it can be hard to detect. Place a few drops of food coloring in the water tank and leave it for 30 minutes. If you can see the color in the toilet bowl when you return, you have a toilet water leak.
It’s a great idea to carry out some annual plumbing checks if you want to protect your home from water damage and save water. If you’re not confident, contact your local certified plumber and they can arrange a tune-up for your plumbing system.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.