As we enter the spring months, it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning to get ready for the year to come. But, this is also a great time to look at some essential plumbing maintenance for your home. Some of these tasks you have perform yourself with little to no DIY experience, but for others, you need to contact your local certified plumber.
- The Importance of Plumbing Maintenance
Many pipes, joints, and fixtures in our plumbing systems are hidden under floors, behind walls, and in crawl spaces, so it’s easy to forget about them. We expect our plumbing system to work flawlessly and only have them inspected when something goes wrong. This passive approach may seem viable, but if you become proactive, you can identify issues earlier and save money in the medium to long term.
2. Fixing a Leaky Faucet
This is a classic example of a minor plumbing issue that many people put off until the leak is very bad. This is a mistake; even a single minor water leak can release a large volume of water, which drives up your water bills. Fixing a leaky faucet is pretty easy; you only need a few standard tools and a little patience. Let’s take a look at fixing a leaky ball faucet, which is the most common type found in homes.
Start by locating the under sink water valve, turn the water off, and place a small towel under the drain to catch any small parts that you could lose. Clear an area where you can set down your faucet parts as you remove them to help you remember where everything goes. If you don’t have a set of soft jaw pliers, you can cover the jaws with some electrical tape. As you work, take plenty of pictures with your phone that you can refer to later if you get confused.
Clean the area with some vinegar and a little scrubbing to remove any mineral deposits on the surface of the faucet. Then remove the set screw and faucet handle using an Allen wrench or a screwdriver. When the cover is removed, you can see the set screw easily, and when it’s loose, the faucet can be pulled free. Many leaky taps are caused by a failing adjusting ring that you can tighten with your needle nosed pliers. Turn the water on to confirm that you’ve fixed the problem, and if the leak persists, you need to replace the seats and springs.
Wrap a towel around the housing, loosen the handle cap and remove it. Take care to protect the finish of your faucet handle and other nearby surfaces. Take out the packaging or cartridge by pulling the round metal stem free. Then you can see the “cam” which is a small plastic and rubber insert and a ball assembly. A replacement cam and the packing parts are readily available and inexpensive so if you have one on hand, replace it. There are two circles inside the faucet valve known as the seat and springs, which can be pried free and replaced with new units.
If you install a new cartridge, make sure the ball assembly is located in the original position and then replace the packing and cam over the ball. The tab on the side of the new cam must be slid into a slot on the body of the faucet. During this process, take a look at the O-ring to see if it’s in good shape. If the O-ring is damaged, replace it now and then reattach the packing it and the handle cap. Pull the metal casing over the various faucet parts and then tighten everything up by hand. The adjusting ring must be replaced and tightened with your pliers until the ball feels snug and secure. Reattach the faucet handle, turn the water on and test the hot and cold water settings. Check for signs of leaks, and if the faucet is still leaking after all this work, it’s time to call your local certified plumber for professional help.
3. Protecting Your Water Heater
We rely on a steady supply of hot water for our homes, and spring is an ideal time to carry out some maintenance. Always wear gloves and eye protection when working on your water heater. Start by flushing the sediment out of the water heater tank to prolong its useful lifespan. Flushing should be carried out every six months during spring and fall. Start by turning off the power supply to the water heater and run the water until it feels cold. Then connect a garden hose to the valve located under the water heater. Turn on the water and flush the sediment out of the tank.
If your water heater is approaching its life expectancy, you may want to consider a replacement. Aging water heaters can burst unexpectedly, leading to a lack of hot water and water damage that’s expensive to fix. If you have corrosion in the water tank, you can ask your local certified plumber to install an anode rod. An anode rod typically lasts a couple of years before it needs replacing, but it will protect your water heater.
4. A Toilet Leak Test
If your toilet is leaking, it can interfere with your toilet flushing and drive up your water bill. A leaking toilet can waste a lot of water each day, and this can really add up over an entire year. The toilet plumbing is usually the most used part of a home plumbing system depending upon the size of the household. It’s easy to check if your toilet is leaking, and all you need is some food dye. Place a couple of drops in the toilet tank, leave it alone for 20-30 minutes and check the toilet bowl. If the colored dye made it to the toilet bowl, there is a toilet leak. The test is easy for anyone to carry out, but the repair is a task for a local certified professional plumber.
If you want to get your home plumbing system ready for the year ahead, contact your local professional plumber today.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.