Your household plumbing system is more than a collection of pipes. You also have your hoses and fixtures, and notably, the rubber gaskets that connect them to the pipes. Gaskets are essential for creating airtight seals in your fixtures and preventing plumbing leaks. Unfortunately, the rubber parts of  the plumbing system can also dry out and crack over time if they aren't used. Read on for tips on how to keep your hoses, gaskets and seals in good condition, and what to do when they deteriorate.

Dried and Cracked Rubber Seals

Rubber hoses, like the ones that connect to your washing machine, don't last forever. Nor do the gaskets in your sinks and showers. If you don't inspect them regularly and replace them as needed, there will be a day when they start springing plumbing leaks and you'll have to make an emergency repair. However, there is one major mistake that you should avoid so you don't artificially shorten the life of your rubber plumbing components.

The trick with gaskets and hoses is they need to be exposed to water or they will start to dry out -- and from there, crack. So, for example, if you are taking an extended vacation, it's not necessarily a good idea to shut down your water system. A total shutdown could prevent a catastrophic flood, but it could also hasten the deterioration of your plumbing seals. A better solution if you are going to be away for weeks or months is to have someone house-sit or at least stop by periodically to run the water and make sure everything is okay.

Point of Concern When Buying a Home

Dried and cracked seals should also be a major point of concern when you are purchasing a used home. If the residence has been empty for some time, there's a good chance that the owners shut down the water system -- and if the pipes have been dry for years, the integrity of the seals has likely taken a big hit. When considering buying an unoccupied home, have the seller turn the water system back on a few days before you schedule an inspection so you will be able to spot any plumbing leaks that stem from cracked hoses or gaskets.

The good news is that broken gaskets aren't the end of the world and are a relatively simple plumbing repair. The exact mechanisms for replacement depend on the specific hose hookups, faucets and fixtures, but in general, you just have to take the fixture apart and put a new, correctly-sized seal into place. When in doubt, call a plumber for help.

Expert Help for All Your Plumbing Leaks

If you need your seals and hoses inspected, or have any plumbing leaks that need to be addressed, call an expert plumber today.

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