Below are some plumbing basics that could wind up saving you big money in the long run. It might not surprise you when I say that many homeowners need to gain basic knowledge of their plumbing systems. Most homeowners are guilty of taking their plumbing system for granted until something goes wrong, then we take notice. If you ask ten homeowners where their water shut-off valve is, only half could show you where it exists. Can you imagine if there is a water leak, only half of all homeowners would know where to shut off the water? Every homeowner should know the plumbing basics when it comes to their plumbing system.
The Basics of What You Should Know:
You should know how to unclog a toilet, shower, or sink
Knowing how to unclog a drain is an essential skill for every homeowner. Clogged drains are a common household issue that can lead to inconvenience and even costly repairs if not addressed promptly. By learning the basics of unclogging drains, you can avoid needing professional assistance in many cases. Simple tools like a plunger or a drain snake can work wonders in clearing minor blockages. Additionally, using natural methods such as baking soda and vinegar can be effective and eco-friendly. Empower yourself with this knowledge, and you’ll be able to tackle drain clogs swiftly, saving time, money, and stress in the process.
Know how to remove black slime from your drains
Removing black slime from your drains is vital to maintaining a healthy and hygienic home. Black slime, often a combination of bacteria, mildew, and other organic matter, can accumulate in drains over time, leading to unpleasant odors and slow drainage. To combat this issue, regular cleaning is key. One effective method is to pour a mixture of equal parts baking soda and white vinegar down the drain, followed by hot water after 15 minutes. Alternatively, using a drain brush or a pipe snake can help dislodge and remove stubborn slime. By staying proactive and incorporating these simple drain cleaning techniques into your routine, you can keep your drains free from black slime and ensure a smoothly functioning plumbing system.
Make sure you know how to shut your water off in case of an emergency
Making sure you know how to shut off your water in case of an emergency is a crucial aspect of home safety. Water emergencies can occur unexpectedly, such as burst pipes or major leaks, and being able to stop the flow of water quickly can prevent extensive damage. Locate the main water shut-off valve in your home, typically near the water meter or where the main water line enters the house. Please familiarize yourself with how to operate the valve and ensure it’s easily accessible and not obstructed. Knowing how to shut off the water swiftly can save you from potential flooding, property damage, and costly repairs in case of a sudden water-related emergency. Preparedness is the key to mitigating the impact of unforeseen events on your home and ensuring your family’s safety.
Learn how to fix a jammed garbage disposal
Knowing how to fix a jammed garbage disposal is a valuable skill that can spare you from unnecessary expenses and inconveniences. If you encounter a jammed garbage disposal, the first step is to turn off the power to the unit to avoid accidents. Next, use a long-handled wooden spoon or tongs to dislodge the obstruction by gently rotating the blades from above. Avoid using your hands to prevent injury. If the jam persists, use a hex key or an Allen wrench to turn the disposal’s motor from below manually. Insert the key into the bottom of the disposal and rotate it back and forth to free the blockage. Once the obstruction is removed, restore the power and run water through the disposal to ensure it’s working correctly. Remember, safety always comes first, so if you need more certainty about the repair process, feel free to seek professional assistance.
Learn essential maintenance on your water heater
Regular water heater maintenance is essential to ensure its longevity and optimal performance. One crucial task is periodically inspecting the pressure relief valve and draining any sediment buildup. Additionally, check for any signs of leakage around the unit and address them promptly. Flushing the water heater once or twice a year helps remove sediment that can affect its efficiency. Insulating the pipes and the tank itself can minimize heat loss, leading to energy savings. Keep an eye on the temperature settings, making sure they are appropriate for your household’s needs. Finally, consider having an annual professional inspection to identify potential issues early on. By investing a little time and effort in maintaining your water heater, you can extend its lifespan and have a reliable source of hot water whenever you need it.
Know how to check for a leak in your home
Checking for water leaks in your home is crucial to prevent potential water damage and conserve water. Start by monitoring your water meter for unusual fluctuations when no water is used. If you notice a change, it could indicate a hidden leak. Inspect all visible plumbing fixtures and pipes for signs of water stains, drips, or puddles. Leaks may also present themselves through a musty odor or the sound of running water, even when no taps are open. A simple way to test for toilet leaks is by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tank; if color appears in the bowl without flushing, there’s a leak. Additionally, monitor your water bill; a sudden unexplained increase could signal an undetected leak. Being proactive in checking for water leaks can save you money, conserve water resources, and prevent potential water-related damage in your home.
Know how to change a toilet flapper
Changing a toilet flapper is a straightforward process that can fix a common cause of water wastage and running toilets. Start by turning off the water supply to the toilet using the shut-off valve, usually located near the toilet’s base. Flush the toilet to empty the tank, and then remove any remaining water by soaking it up with a sponge or towel. Locate the flapper attached to the flush valve at the bottom of the tank. Unhook the flapper chain from the flush lever and carefully remove the old flapper.
Take the old flapper with you to the hardware store to ensure you get the correct replacement. Install the new flapper in the same position, reattach the chain to the flush lever, and ensure it has the right amount of slack to allow the flapper to seal properly when the toilet is flushed. Turn the water supply back on, let the tank fill, and check for any leaks. This simple DIY fix can stop water from running continuously in the toilet, saving water and money on utility bills.
Know where to locate your cleanouts
Knowing where to locate your cleanouts is essential for maintaining your plumbing system and dealing with potential blockages effectively. Cleanouts are access points in the plumbing system designed to allow easy inspection and clearing of clogs, also considered one of our plumbing basics. Cleanouts are typically found in residential properties along the main sewer line and at critical junctions, such as under sinks or near toilets. They are often identified by their round or square caps, which can be unscrewed to access the pipes. Knowing the location of these cleanouts can save you time and effort when troubleshooting drainage issues or calling for professional help. Regularly checking and keeping these access points clear ensures smoother plumbing operations and minimizes the risk of major backups or water damage in your home.
Learn how to check your water pressure
Learning how to check your water pressure is a valuable skill for homeowners to maintain a well-functioning plumbing system. High water pressure can lead to stress on pipes, fixtures, and appliances, while low pressure may result in reduced water flow and inadequate performance. To check your water pressure, you can use a water pressure gauge, available at hardware stores. Start by turning off all water-using appliances and faucets in your home. Attach the gauge to an outdoor hose bib or a designated pressure test point. Open the valve slowly and observe the gauge reading.
The ideal water pressure for most homes ranges between 40 to 60 psi (pounds per square inch). If the pressure is too high or too low, consider installing a pressure regulator or adjusting your existing one to ensure optimal water pressure throughout your household. Regularly checking and maintaining the appropriate water pressure can prevent plumbing issues, conserve water, and extend the lifespan of your plumbing system.
Here are some plumbing basics that your plumber will not always tell you about:
Refrain from believing what a flushable label says. The so-called “flushables” should never be flushed down the drain: tampons, wipes, floss, or Q-tips. While they may seem harmless, they can get lodged in the trap and back up later. No one regulates what is flushable and what is not.
Never pour grease down your drain. Grease can harden and get lodged in your drain. It can also build up residue on the lining of your pipes.
Some homeowners were told if they put a brick or a sealed liter of water in their toilet tank, they would save on water. While there is some truth to that, more times than not, it keeps your toilet from flushing correctly. Better yet, you can buy a brand new dual flush toilet by Glacier Bay for under $200. It uses 1.1 gallons a flush for liquid and 1.6 gallons a flush for solids–––you’ll save a bundle.
Another way to apply the plumbing basics is to replace the hoses on your washing machine and dishwashers. Broken water hoses from washing machines and dishwashers are one of the main reasons for flood damage. It’s recommended that you replace the hoses once every five years.
Knowledge Will Lead to Personal Empowerment
If you know the plumbing basics of your home, it could keep hard-earned money where it belongs–––in your pocket. It could also save you from a plumbing disaster. We have all heard the slogan, “Knowledge is power,” and most would agree with that statement. However, it comes in many forms, and what we do with that knowledge will lead to personal empowerment. Knowing specific facts about plumbing basics, however small they are, can extend the life of your pipes, drains, water heaters, and garbage disposals.