Fast, easy tips to avoid more expensive repairs coming down the pipe!
When we think of springtime checklists around the house, most of us imagine cleaning gutters, painting some old shutters, maybe pulling out a few old, overgrown shrubs. Checking old pipes for leaks and closely inspecting our toilets usually isn’t top of mind.
But it should be!
Plumbing failures can range from a slow-drip leak to a complete pipe burst and thousands of dollars in damage. Water damage accounts for around 22% of all homeowner claims. Your neighborhood Ben Franklin Plumbing expert can perform a comprehensive inspection of your current plumbing and identify any potential issues long before they tap into your household budget.
If you prefer to take a look yourself before giving us a call, we offer this Spring Plumbing Maintenance Checklist:
Check for Toilet Leaks:
We’ll start with the item few people routinely think to check…toilets!
Do a visual inspection around the bowl and tank, looking for leaks inside and out. If there is one, it is usually easy to spot. To be sure, put 6-10 drops of food coloring in the tank water and wait for about an hour. When time is up, look inside the bowl (ie: lift the lid and look inside). Is there color inside the bowl water? If so, that indicates there is an internal leak somewhere between the tank mechanism and the bowl. Have one of our plumbing professionals take a look.
Check for Leaks Around Faucets
While you’re in the bathroom looking at the toilet, look at the faucets in the bathtub and sinks. If you don’t find visible leaks, turn on the faucets and check to see if water starts to escape around the base of the faucet or handles. While the water is running, look under your sinks to be sure nothing is dripping below in the “U” bend or other pipework. This is for all pipes in your home; walk room to room (where you have water connections) and do a quick visual inspection, taking notes of any concerns for your Ben Franklin professional to address.
Maintain Water Heater
The first thing to do is check the age of your water heater. If it’s a newer model, it probably operates more efficiently and has newer seals, drains, and other components. A quick visual inspection for any noticeable leaks will most likely suffice here. If your heater is over 7-8 years old, do a closer inspection. The average life span of a water heater is about 15-20 years.
If your tank is at half-life or older:
- Check the temperature setting to make sure it’s no higher than 120 degrees.
- Look for leaks, but also signs of rust around the fittings or on the skin of the tank itself.
- Is there a bubbling of the paint or metal itself on the tank?
- And listen to your water heater—is it making noise or hissing when it operates?
- Also make sure no items stored near the water heater (whether it’s in a garage or interior dedicated closet are within two feet; this is both for safety (fire hazard, water damage risk, etc., and better operational performance.)
Here, too, age is a factor. If your dishwasher, washing machine or ice maker, for example, is over three years old, check the hoses carefully for leaks or bulging. If they are over ten years old, plan to replace the hoses completely. Use stainless steel which is more durable and will extend the life of your appliances.
One thing people often forget about is the lint trap in their washing machine. Check that to be sure lint, thread, small objects and other things are not causing a clog. Installing a wire trap or even a small piece of panty hose at the end of the drain hose can help cut down on blockages.
Check the Sump Pump
This might be a little trickier, but a working sump pump is critical, especially in the high severe weather seasons like spring and fall. To test your sump pump, pour a bucket of water into the pit where the sump pump sits. The sump pump should immediately turn on, drain the water, and then shut off. If this does not happen, your sump pump needs closer expert inspection and possible repair.
Outdoor Plumbing and Draining
Head outside! Your home’s exterior is covered in various pipes and drains, as is the yard. Check drains, gutters, or downspouts and vents to be sure they are clear and open of any blockages. Turn on all outdoor faucets to see that water is flowing properly and that there has been no piping that needs to be replaced due inclement weather. Water may leak out of faucet if there is a problem the first time you turn it on. If you have an irrigation system, test it zone by zone to ensure each sprinkler head activates and doesn’t pool water. (Watch for bubbling in the grass between sprinkler heads, which indicates you may have a line burst just below the surface!)
This is a high-level checklist that gives tips for a visual inspection of your home’s water-related systems. Your Ben Franklin plumbing expert will perform a detailed and comprehensive inspection of your home’s plumbing to catch any problems coming down the pipe (pun intended!) Since plumbing repairs and upgrades usually involve knowledge of local city, county, and state building codes, we highly recommend letting one of our insured, bonded, and certified professionals handle the service call.
At Ben Franklin Plumbing, we address your plumbing concerns correctly, safely, and affordably the first time. We’ve been proudly serving customers in Charlotte and the surrounding area for decades, including Indian Trail, Concord, and Mooresville.