Plumbing Maintenance: A Checklist For Homeowners

Plumbing Maintenance: A Checklist for Homeowners

by

Lizel Tyson

If you own a home, home maintenance likely takes up a good amount of your time. But this time is well spent. After all, your home is likely your largest financial asset and keeping it in good condition not only makes your home more comfortable to live in, a sound home maintenance plan also protects the investment you\’ve made in your home.

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Maintaining your home\’s plumbing system is an important part of any comprehensive home maintenance plan. A simple checklist can make this annual or twice-annual effort as quick and easy as possible. Following a plumbing maintenance checklist will also ensure you don\’t overlook something. Remember that your plumbing system includes sinks, toilets, showers, and bathtubs, as well as laundry facilities and outside hookups for hoses and watering systems. Locate where water supply and sewer or waste water pipes enter and leave your home. These are key transition points for your plumbing system. You\’ll want to look for signs of leaks, including puddles or watermarks. If other piping is exposed and easily inspected, look for indications of corrosion such as green staining around copper and brass fittings. Corrosion can lead to leaks and weak pipe connections if left uncorrected. Test your home\’s water pressure using one of the many inexpensive test gauges you can pick up at your local hardware or home supply store. Water pressure is a measure of how forcefully water comes out of faucets, shower heads, and other fixtures. Low water pressure can indicate a plumbing system problem. Sediment build up in a fixture (or sometimes more than one fixture) can cause low water pressure, but so can a problem with the main water supply line. Remove all shower heads and faucet screens. You\’re looking for sediment that may have built up inside the fixtures. Drains: examine all sink, shower, and tub drains to see how quickly water drains. The most common causes of slow drainage are a drain clog or a plugged vent pipe. All drains should display a full swirl while draining. If you see bubbles as water is flowing down the drain, this could indicate a drainage problem. Toilets: flush all toilets to be sure they are working properly. Examine parts inside the toilet tank to see if anything is broken, missing, or rusted. Extensive rust could be a sign that a part is weakened and could break soon. Replace broken, missing, or rusted parts or call a professional plumber to do the job. Don\’t forget to check for toilet supplies that don\’t turn off after flushing. You\’ll want to check for signs of water or water leaks around each toilet. Also, gently but firmly push and pull on each toilet to see if it shifts or rocks. Showers and Tubs: Inspect shower stalls, tub surrounds, and other areas around fixtures for loose or cracked tiles. A broken tile can be a sign that there is, or was, a leak. There could be rotting behind or under the tile as a result. Inspect all caulking to ensure an effective seal. Throughout your inspection be watchful for dark stains indicating mildew. Mildew grows in standing water and could indicate a leak or damaging water build up. Inspect all the faucets in your home for leaks. Pay careful attention to handles and valves. Check washing machine hoses for cracks. Hoses also should be pliable. Replace brittle hoses. Finally, complete and date a checklist sheet and file it with your other home maintenance documents. This isn\’t meant to be a complete and exhaustive checklist just a way to get you started. Some of these elements might not apply to your home and no doubt there will be some items you\’ll want to add to the list. If your inspection uncovers anything surprising or suspicious, call a licensed plumber. We\’re all busy, but taking an hour or so once or twice a year to do a comprehensive inspection of your home\’s plumbing system can save you a significant amount of time and money later on. The old adage applies to home maintenance too: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

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