Plumbing Maintenance And Repair

A New Homeowner’s Guide To Plumbing Maintenance And Repair

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Plumbing is an essential part of everyday living. It provides access to clean water, conserves energy, offers comfort and convenience, produces jobs, saves lives, and prevents the spread of various diseases.

Did you know that an average leak can waste almost 10,000 gallons of water every year? Household plumbing issues can tear your wallet apart and put your health at risk if left ignored for an extended period. This is why, as a homeowner, understanding the basic plumbing maintenance tasks is essential. Keeping your plumbing up and running in good condition can help you save thousands of dollars in the long run.

However, plumbing problems are sometimes inevitable, no matter how hard you try to prevent them. This is especially true because most of them can go unnoticed for a while, leading to severe complications. 

If you’re into DIY, then this post is ideal for you. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of plumbing maintenance as well as how to repair simple plumbing issues. However, if the task is too much for you, don’t hesitate to call a professional for help. Go to your favorite search engine and type ‘plumber near me’ in the search bar to locate professional plumbers within your area. 

How To Conduct Plumbing Maintenance?

Below are some plumbing maintenance tips that may help you avoid unwanted plumbing expenses from wasting your money and energy:

1. Keep Your Drains Clog-Free

It’s important to clear your drains from time to time to prevent dirt buildup that can cause major plumbing issues, such as burst pipes and flooding. To keep your drains clog-free, here are some simple yet helpful tips you can do:

  • Run Hot Water: Do you often pour grease down your kitchen sink? Fats and oils can clog your drains when they start to solidify. To prevent that, use a separate trash bin or pour hot water periodically to melt and flush grease deposits.
  • Use Cold Water Properly: Don’t use cold water too often. Keep in mind that only hot water can melt and flush grease deposits. If you’re no longer flushing fats and oils on your sinks, then using cold water will no longer be a concern.
  • Maintain Clear Pipes: To prevent another clog, you’ll need to keep your pipes clean at all times. To do this, regularly pour bleach down your sink, and let it sit for an hour before rinsing it with running water.

Follow these easy tips to maintain a clear and clog-free drain. 

2. Avoid Flushing Anything In The Toilet

Like drains, it’s important to keep your toilet clog-free to prevent nasty plumbing problems. To do that, avoid flushing anything that can cause clogs, such as candy wrappers, paper towels, dental floss, wet wipes, cotton swabs, hair strands, small toys, etc.

But how about those so-called ‘flushable wipes’? Unfortunately, flushable wipes aren’t totally flushable. Yes, they can break down into tiny pieces—unlike regular wipes—but after a long time. And when that time comes, they might’ve already caused serious plumbing issues.

Aside from your pee and poo, toilet paper is the only thing you can flush in your toilet. Why? Because it’s easier to break down compared to wipes and regular kitchen towels.

3. Schedule Regular Plumbing Checkups

It’s important to schedule plumbing checkups as regularly as possible to avoid unwanted surprises. With this, you can circumvent major plumbing problems. 

Conducting regular plumbing checkups not just prevents bursting pipes and leakages. It also ensures efficient plumbing systems during the hot summer and cold winter months. 

Aside from inspecting pipes, regular plumbing checkups should assess every plumbing fixture for leaks, mineral buildup, and corrosion. Professional plumbers should also check water heaters and ensure no buildup can cause severe problems in the future.

4. Watch Out For Plumbing Corrosion

Corrosion is a chemical reaction common to metal pipes. It occurs when the metal comes in contact with water, grime, and other electron-consuming materials. Unfortunately, corrosion is self-perpetuating, meaning it becomes worse over time. This can result in cracks, rust, and holes.

Here are some simple ways to prevent corrosion:

  • Check The pH Of Your Water: Too high or too low pH levels can be detrimental to the lining of your pipes. Make sure the pH of your water falls within the range of 6.5 to 8.5—not too acidic and not too basic.
  • Keep Your Pipes Clean: Microorganisms like bacteria and fungi can induce corrosion. That’s why it’s important to keep your pipes clean at all times, especially if they often come in contact with sulfides. 
  • Protect Your Pipes: Protect the lining of your pipes by applying special coatings that prevent corrosion. For example, adding a layer of zinc or sealant to metallic surfaces keeps corrosive bacteria at bay.
  • Stabilize The Pipe Structure: Frequent friction, bouncing, and vibrations can damage metal pipes, forming openings that allow corrosive material to enter. To prevent crevice corrosion, you can use pipe restraints like straps, U-bolts, and clamps.

Also, be careful of galvanic corrosion, a chemical reaction caused by the interaction between metals, leading to a weakened structure. You can use pipe shoes, wear pads, or other insulators to prevent metallic surfaces from interacting with each other.

5. Prepare Your Pipes For Winter

Winter might be the most wonderful time of the year, but not for your pipes. The frigid temperatures can make your pipes freeze to death. This leads to bursting pipes, causing damage to furniture, walls, and carpets. 

But don’t worry; there are steps you can take to prevent your pipes from freezing when the season arrives. Before the temperatures begin to drop, make sure to do the following:

  • Keep your pipes insulated, especially in your attic, garage, and crawl spaces. Exposed pipes are vulnerable to freezing. So, the more insulator you apply, the better.
  • Wrap your pipes using thermostatic heat cables or heat tape. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions included. 
  • Seal every leak with insulators or caulk to prevent cold air from entering. During winter, even a blow of cold air is enough to leave your pipes frozen.
  • Disconnect hoses and pipes leading to drip irrigation, evaporative coolers, outside faucets, and sprinklers. 

However, if you’re away from home during winter, make sure to do the following:

  • Set the thermostat of your home to warm. Never set the settings to low to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Drain all the excess water and shut off the main water system. Double-check your fixtures and ensure no drop of water is in sight. 

Follow all these tips to ensure your pipes won’t end up freezing when the cold winter months arrive.

How To Conduct Plumbing Repairs?

Below are some common plumbing problems you need to know and how to repair them:

1. Leaky Pipes

Are you experiencing the following signs?

  • Soaring water bills (higher than the previous month)
  • The appearance of mold and mildew
  • Rooms smell musty
  • Running water meter (even if nobody’s using water)
  • Discoloration on the wall

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If you do, you probably have leaky pipes—you just don’t notice them. Here’s what you need to do to have your leaking pipes fixed:

  • Shut off the main valve to stop the leak temporarily. If the leak is situated in your drain pipe, there’s no need to shut off your main water supply.
  • Turn on the faucet connected to the leaky pipe to drain the excess water. Then, dry the affected area (where the leak occurs).
  • Knead a small amount of epoxy putty until the color becomes light grey. Then, wrap the kneaded putty where the leak occurs and let it set for around eight minutes.
  • Turn on the main valve to see if you’ve completely sealed the leak.

That’s how you fix a leaky pipe using epoxy putty. If the damage is too severe to handle, don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber as soon as possible to repair the damage.

2. Clogged Toilet

How do you usually address a clogged toilet? You’d probably use a plunger to push the clog buildup. Unfortunately, it only makes the problem worse. The suction force of the plunger is enough to pull the clog toward the bowl instead of pushing it out.

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To address stubborn clogs, you need to use a closet auger. It’s a flexible device that can fit inside the bowl without scratching the surfaces. It hooks the clog and pulls it out of the bowl.

3. Clogged Drain

A clogged drain is one of the plumbing problems many homeowners encounter at least once in a lifetime. If left ignored, it can cause serious problems such as unwanted odors and burst pipes. Therefore, it’s important to fix it as soon as possible.

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To fix a clogged drain, you may use baking soda and vinegar. Here’s what to do:

  • Pour hot, boiling water down your drain.
  • Pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of vinegar.
  • Cover with a plug and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. 
  • Flush the clog with boiling water.

Another way is to use a drain pipe auger or plumber snake. This is a powerful tool that can remove even large clog buildup. For better results, run your water while pushing the clog with an auger to flush it out of the system easily. 

Furthermore, never use a wire hanger that you just straightened to make it look like a plumber snake. The sharp ends of the wire can damage the inner linings of the pipe, making it vulnerable to cracks that can lead to leaks. 

If these tips turn out to be ineffective, ask a plumber right away for a more advanced unclogging procedure. 

4. Low Water Pressure

There’s a possibility of low water pressure if your water flow is weak. This can be frustrating and annoying at the same time, especially when you’re taking a shower. 

First, ask your neighbors if they’re also experiencing the same issue. If they do, it might be a problem concerning the entire municipality. All you need to do is report the case to your local office and let them fix the issue. 

If the problem is isolated to your home, conduct a simple inspection and check for leaky or clogged pipes. If the cause is a leaky or clogged pipe, repair the damage and remove the clog with the steps above. This may help improve the water pressure in your home.

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You can also improve the water pressure in your home with the following tips:

  • Adjust Your Pressure-Reducing Valve: If you’re using a pressure-reducing valve, it might be the cause of low water pressure in your home. Adjust the regulator slightly and check your water flow. If necessary, make additional adjustments. 
  • Install A Booster: A water pressure booster can raise the water pressure in your home to normal levels. It’d be best to hire a professional plumber to install it for you, especially if the source of the problem is the well water.

Furthermore, note that raising water pressure can strain your pipes. So, take extra precautions when adjusting water pressure, especially if your pipes are old and possibly corroded.

5. Sewer Issues

This is probably one of the most disgusting plumbing problems you’ll ever encounter, thanks to the vomit-inducing odors it creates. If the sewer gets clogged, every drain in your house may also get clogged.

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Fixing sewer-related problems is complicated. It’d be best to let professional plumbers handle the issue. All you need to do is to prevent it from occurring as much as possible. Here are some tips to help you:

  • Be Careful With What You Flush: Common causes of sewer clogs are makeup wipes, food, and grease. Any kind of wipes, food, and grease should be disposed of in a separate trash bin together with other waste materials. 
  • Check Your Trees: Roots from large trees can break through your sewer lines, causing serious problems. This can be difficult to diagnose, so it’d be best to call a professional plumber to prevent causing further damage.

Bottom Line

Plumbing is essential to everyday living, so keeping it up and running in good condition is important. Regular plumbing maintenance checks can help you save time, money, and energy in the long run. 

This will also help you prevent plumbing problems that can cost you thousands of dollars if left ignored. Furthermore, don’t forget to call professional plumbing services when addressing serious problems.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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