How To Avoid A Plumbing Disaster
Tip No. 1: Find the Main Shutoff Valve to Your Home
If a pipe bursts in your home, time is of the essence to keep major damage from occurring. You will have to shut off all water, and you’ll need to do it quickly. Immediately locate your main shutoff valve so you can take quick action. This valve is typically located at the point where the municipal water system connects to your home’s plumbing system. Talk to a plumber if necessary so you will know exactly where that valve is located, and then share that information with all people living in the home and show them how to shut off the water supply.
Tip No. 2: Don’t Risk an Unpleasant Surprise When You Get Back from Vacation
If you are leaving town for a while, make sure you turn off all water to the house. A burst pipe is bad enough when you’re at home—if this type of plumbing disaster happens when you’re on vacation, the damage will be even worse.
Tip No. 3: Check Your Home for Leaks
A plumbing leak not only wastes water and money; it can slowly do a great deal of damage you may not notice until it is too late. That is why you should regularly check for leaks. You can call a plumber or take care of this yourself.
If you’re the DIY type, pick a day when no one is going to be home for at least six hours. Turn off your icemaker, sprinkler system and any appliances that use water. Then, go to your water meter and take a reading. You must not use any water at all—you can’t even flush the toilet. After six hours, check the meter again. If the reading is the same, you don’t have any leaks. If the meter changes, you may have a problem.
Tip No. 4: Be Careful When Performing DIY Projects
While there is obviously nothing wrong with taking a do-it-yourself attitude when it comes to a plumbing project, be sure to have a plan first. Do some research online before starting a project; the last thing you want to do, for example, is to start taking a faucet apart only to realize you don’t have the slightest idea how to put it back together.
Also, don’t try to take on a project you know in your heart you simply can’t handle. The risk of injury or damage is not worth it. Call a professional instead.
Tip No. 5: Have the Right Tools
While researching that DIY plumbing job, pay special attention to what tools you will need to get the job done right. Just about everybody has a screwdriver or a wrench, but there may be some special tools or materials you’ll need to purchase. If you use the wrong wrench when disconnecting a pipe, for example, you could damage the threads to the point you will need to purchase a replacement.
Tip No. 6: There Are Certain Things You Simply Can’t Flush
Paper towels, feminine products and hand wipes are just some of the things that should never see the inside of your toilet. You may think you can flush just about anything since the drain opening is so large, but your drainage system is basically only designed to carry certain things. You would be surprised at the items some people try to flush—not only those mentioned earlier, but also toothbrushes and even small toys.
Just because something can be flushed doesn’t mean it’s biodegradable. Items not designed to degrade will eventually result in a potentially damaging clog that could cost hundreds of dollars (or even more) to clear.
Tip. No. 7: Pay Attention to that Dripping Sound
A constant drip is not only annoying, it is a sign you have an issue that needs to be addressed. That drip is not going to go away on its own, and what may start as a minor issue could eventually become a major problem if not fixed promptly.
These are just a few of the actions you can do around the house to minimize the chances of ever having to deal with a plumbing disaster. Just remember, if you are planning a DIY project, you need to take your time and do your homework. If you have any doubts whatsoever if you can handle the job, make sure you call a pro.
Patricia Bonacorda is the president of Spartan Plumbing, a plumbing and HVAC company. For more than 50 years, they have assisted with commercial and residential buildings. Spartan Plumbing is a licensed, bonded and insured business that has provided professional plumbing, heating and air conditioning services throughout the Washington, DC region.