Plumbing issues can arise abruptly and potentially lead to catastrophic consequences. However, by conducting periodic inspections of essential plumbing fixtures, you can detect and address emerging problems before they turn into emergencies. You can also change some appliances and fixtures by using good quality ones such as high-quality forged steel valves. To perform a comprehensive inspection, it’s crucial to focus on high-use areas with numerous plumbing fixtures, such as the kitchen and bathroom. Additionally, don’t overlook other appliances and fixtures throughout the house, including outdoor hose spigots and the water heater situated in the basement or utility room.
Regular inspection and maintenance is key to avoiding a major plumbing problem such as a stoppage in the main sewer line or septic system, which can pose serious health risks. Here are some tips to help prevent such problems:
- For those with a septic system with a drain field, have the system inspected and serviced regularly, and pump out the tank whenever it becomes full. If you have a drainage field system, make sure your family knows what materials should not be flushed down the drain. It’s recommended to avoid flushing food materials into a septic system, and bleach-based cleaners should also be avoided as they interfere with the biological breakdown of wastes that’s necessary for a septic system.
- For those with municipal sewer lines, prevent mainline blockages through regular maintenance. If you experience periodic stoppages, which are usually caused by tree roots in the sewer lines, hire a professional sewer service to snake the line annually to prevent floor drains from backing up into your home. You can evaluate the effectiveness of the sewer line by emptying all sinks and tubs at the same time and seeing if a floor drain backs up or if it takes a long time for all the drains to empty. Look for signs of a pending sewer drain clog and address them before they turn into major stoppages.
- Don’t forget to inspect your vent pipes. Vent pipes play an important role in your home’s drain and sewer system as they equalize air pressure and vent sewer gases. They usually extend through the top of your roof, and if they become blocked with debris, snow, or ice, your drain system won’t function as effectively. During your plumbing system tour, visually inspect the vent pipes on your roof for signs of blockage. You may have several vent pipes, one for each main soil stack, and possibly secondary vent pipes as well.
Around the House
The essential plumbing components in a home include the bathroom, kitchen, and sewer system, but there are many other fixtures and appliances that require periodic inspection to detect problems:
- Water heater: You should examine the cold water inlet pipe and hot water exit pipe above the water heater for signs of water leakage. Check around the base of the water heater for any leaking caused by a faulty temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve or a damaged drain valve. It’s necessary to flush the water heater tank every few years to remove sediment from the bottom of the tank. A professional service person should inspect and clean the burner unit of gas water heaters occasionally.
- Branch shutoff valves: If your plumbing system has branch shutoff valves that control different zones, you should ensure they’re functioning properly. Replace any faulty valves you find.
- Sump pump: If your basement has an under-floor drainage system and sump pit, verify that it’s functioning correctly. You can test this by filling the sump pit manually with water and checking whether the pump empties the water.
- Outdoor hose spigots: It’s easy to overlook outdoor faucets, but they, too, can develop leaks and require repairs. You should replace washers or cartridges to repair them. Spigots in cold regions may crack due to extreme winter temperatures, so replace any defective spigots you encounter.
- Irrigation system: At the beginning of the watering season, you should inspect your lawn sprinkler system to ensure that all spray heads are operating correctly. At the end of the watering season, you should winterize the system by draining or blowing it free of water to prevent pipes from rupturing due to freezing over the winter.
- Washing machine: You should periodically check the water hoses for signs of wear. If the rubber hoses begin to bulge, they’re nearing the end of their useful lives and should be replaced. Hoses that burst when the owners are away are a major cause of expensive water damage. Also, inspect the valves that control the hot and cold water hoses for your washing machine. Replace them if they don’t completely stop the water flow when turned off.
- Check home water pressure: To avoid overloading your home’s plumbing system, ensure that the water pressure is at a safe level. You can test the water pressure with a pressure gauge in just a few minutes. If the pressure is too high, you should install or repair/replace the pressure regulator to reduce it to a safe level.