Spring is here and you may want to get outside and enjoy the weather. However, with spring weather being unpredictable, you might decide to overhaul your home with some deep cleaning. Whether inside or outside, including home plumbing maintenance with your cleaning this spring.
Recommended Spring Maintenance Tips for Your Plumbing
Perform maintenance on your water heater.
We recommend maintaining your water heater every six months. Spring and fall are good gauges for doing this. While performing spring cleaning, drain your water tank of sediments to help its longevity and keep it working efficiently. To drain it, turn off the electricity or gas to the water heater. Close the water supply valve to the off position so water doesn’t flow into the heater. Hook up a garden hose to the drain valve or nozzle at the bottom of the tank and run it outside to drain or to a bucket to collect the water. Keep in mind you’ll need to monitor the bucket so it doesn’t overflow. Open the drain valve and empty the tank. If you prefer, your professional plumber can perform the maintenance for you.
Verify you don’t have leaks.
Unfortunately, winter freezes can damage your pipes and often it is not until the beginning of spring that you discover you have a leak. The best way to verify whether you have a leak or not is to do a meter test. Start by turning off all running water in your home. This includes faucets, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, etc. Turn off all your outside sources. Go to your water meter on the street and open the lid. Look at the flow gauge to verify it is not turning. Even the slightest turn will indicate water is running somewhere. If you have the tiniest turn, double check everything is off. Go into the house and turn off the water shutoff valve. If the meter stops after turning off the shutoff valve, you have a leak in your house. If the meter continues to turn, this indicates your leak is outside.
Check your toilet. One of the most common sources of leaks that go unnoticed is toilets. Therefore, if you have done the meter test and suspect a leak inside your home, the toilets should be the first places to look. A simple test is to put colored dye into the tank and wait about 15-20 minutes. If dye gets into the bowl, you have a leak. Other problems are the toilet running long after you’ve flushed or causing a phantom flush when no one is using it. To test this, do the water meter test again with the water shutoff valve to the house on but turn off the toilet. There is a knob behind the toilet that turns it off.
Check your outdoor faucets. With chances for winter freezes gone, you can now remove the covers you put on for winter and inspect the faucet. If you didn’t put on a cover and left a garden hose attached, your outdoor faucets were more susceptible to freeze. Remove the hose and verify there are no drips or leaks.
Check your yard for wet or soggy areas. Your pipes leading from the meter at the street to your house are susceptible to leaks, especially during freezes in the winter. If you’ve done the meter test and suspect an outside leak, look for unusually wet or soggy areas around your pipes. This indicates water is not properly draining into the ground and it could be a sign of a leak.
Check Your Water Heater
Make sure your water heater temperature is set to 120 degrees. If you set it any higher than that, you could not only burn yourself, but you can also reduce the overall lifespan of your water heater by making it use more energy than it needs to get the job done.
While you’re at it, check around your heater for puddles or other signs there might be a problem, such as rust or soot. And, while this is something no homeowner wants to hear, if your water heater is older than 10 years old, it may be a good time to start shopping for a new one before it breaks down entirely.
Check Your Sump Pump
In the spring, many homeowners experience a flood as the snow melts, which isn’t helped at all by heavy April rains. You can check to make sure your sump pump is working properly by activating the switch yourself by pouring water into the pit. Throw in a vinegar mixture to kill any mold or mildew, and make sure the line is free of leaves and debris.
Check Your Faucets
Make sure all your outdoor faucets and hose bibs are allowing water to flow freely. If you notice any drips outside or leakage inside from an outdoor hose, you may have a pipe that froze over and cracked. Get that checked out immediately.
Check Your Water Pressure
Check to make sure your water pressure isn’t too low, as this may be a sign of a leak. And when it comes to plumbing, it’s often the leaks that you don’t see that can be the most catastrophic.
Check Your Toilet
If you’ve been having some difficulty with your toilet flushing lately, you may be able to find some rather inexpensive relief. For instance, if you need to jiggle or hold the handle down for it to flush all the way, you probably have some worn-out tank parts that need replacing. Not only are these not too expensive to fix but swapping them out should reduce your total water bill.
Check Your Appliances
Check the hoses on your appliances like your dishwasher or washing machine for signs of any bulges or leaks. If you notice any, or if the hoses are older than 10 years old, replace them with stainless steel hoses. Stainless steel hoses last longer and are less vulnerable to bursts.
Check Your Gutters
A classic spring plumbing maintenance tip: don’t forget to check your gutters! Clean them out, then snake them out with a plumber’s auger to ensure they’re fully clear before storm season starts. This will prevent both leaks within your home and overall water damage.
1. Clear Outdoor Drains, Gutters, and Downspouts
During the winter, everything from dried leaves to sticks, twigs, and other debris accumulate on your roof and in your outdoor space. Now that it’s warm again outdoors, you can take the time to clear out debris from your outdoor drains, gutters, and downspouts. Many problems in your plumbing can be avoided by making sure water can run freely down the drains.
2. Check Faucets
While not highly likely in lower elevations of Southern California, the occasional freeze may occur, causing pipe damage. It’s good practice to check all of your faucets for leaks anyway, but make it a special point to check outdoor faucets. If a leak seems to appear after turning on your garden hose, or the outdoor faucet only drips rather than flowing normally, you may have a cracked pipe on your hands. In this case, you’ll need the help of a seasoned plumber such as Biard and Crockett Plumbing Services.
3. Drain the Water Heater
Over time, sediment can accumulate in your water heater. This can cause corrosion and which may reduce the efficiency of your heater and also shortens its expected service life. To avoid this, remove the sediment by carefully draining a few gallons of water from the heater. While you’re at it, also check the water heater temperature setting. A good temperature to set it at is 120 degrees F. This will make the water warm enough for a hot shower, washing hands, dishes, and laundry while avoiding scalding. You’ll also save on your energy bill too!
4. Check for Hidden Toilet Leaks
Toilet leaks you don’t even notice can make your water bill soar. Find out if your toilet is secretly leaking with this trick: place a few drops of food dye in your water tank. Then, wait and see if it appears in the toilet bowl. If the dye appears within 30 minutes or so, you have a leak on your hands. Sometimes it’s a simple case of a broken or old seal you can replace yourself, and sometimes you may need additional help.
5. Exercise Water Supply Valves
On your toilets and at each sink, there are water supply valves used to control the water flow. These are awfully handy when you need to perform a repair on one of these items, as you can cut off water to the sink or toilet without turning off the water in the whole house. However, these valves need to be turned occasionally so that they don’t become too stiff to use. Turn them a few turns toward the “off” position and then back on so they don’t get stuck.