Someone once said, “We never go out of our way to do something we don’t like to do.” Most homeowners would rather not have to deal with their plumbing, so they avoid getting to know their plumbing system altogether. Thomas Jefferson was spot on when he said, “Knowledge is power.” We should take the time to learn a few practical things about our plumbing system that could save us a lot of time and grief in the future. Most would agree that our plumbing system is out of sight, out of mind, so we don’t give it much thought until something goes wrong. While we can’t stop everything from going wrong, we can take a few simple steps to prevent problems down the road.
Replace Old Compression Valves
Replace old compression valves before they start to leak. Your compression valve is the on and off valve to your bathroom and kitchen sink. They are the valves located under the kitchen sink, behind the toilet, and under the bathroom sink. They can stay in the ‘on’ position for ten or fifteen years. When something needs replacing (i.e. faucet), or you’re replacing a part on your toilet, you’ll need to shut off the valve. In so many instances, the valve is corroded shut. If it does move, it starts to leak; then you have a bigger problem on your hands. Put a date on your shut off valves and have them replaced every 8 to 10 years as part of regular plumbing maintenance. Like all plumbing fixtures, these will lose the valve’s compression aspect due to age and wear and tear.
Replace Old Washing Machine Hoses
Replace your washer hoses every five years. Most homeowners are not aware of the potential damage that can occur from worn-out washer hoses. When a washer hose exceeds five years old, the failure rate increases significantly. 80% of the breaks happen before it reaches the ten-year mark. It’s unfortunate, but most homeowners don’t know of the potential flood damage that could happen should a hose break, especially if it were to break when no one was home. Understand your plumbing system and replace your washer hoses every five years or sooner.
Check Your Water Pressure Twice A Year
Check your water pressure at least once or twice a year. Low water pressure could mean several things in older homes. It could mean hard water minerals have built up in your pipes, or you may have a faulty pressure regulating valve. While low water pressure is a problem, it’s high water pressure that can cause damage. Unlike low water pressure, high water pressure can go unnoticed and put extreme stress on your pipes, dishwasher, washing machine, and water heater. High water pressure can also be responsible for wasting large amounts of water. A normal water pressure reading is between 40 to 60 pounds per square inch (PSI). A simple water pressure gauge that costs less than ten dollars can tell you if your water pressure is low or high.
Check For Household Water Leaks Twice A Year
Household water leaks can lead to thousands of gallons of water waste every year. Everything from leaky toilets, showerheads, toilet flappers, faucets, and our irrigation have a tendency to leak. According to WaterSense®, the average home can account for 10,000 gallons of wasted water every year. Household water leaks can account for 1 trillion gallons of wasted water annually, which is equivalent to 11 million homes with a water leak. Check to see if your home has a water leak.
- Shut off all the water to your home.
- Remove the meter lid and write down the reading.
- Wait 30 minutes and recheck the meter. See if the reading has gone up. If it did, you have a leak. You will also see a spinning dial called a flow indicator. If you have a water leak, then the dial will be spinning.
- Next, turn off the irrigation valve, then recheck the meter. If the meter has stopped, then the leak is in the irrigation. If the flow indicator keeps moving, it’s in the home.