Home Plumbing Maintenance | Bill Howe

Home Plumbing Maintenance


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The best way to avoid emergency plumbing and drain repairs is by preventing them. While not all problems can be foreseen, there are plenty of home plumbing maintenance tips that can go a long way in eliminating middle of the night emergencies.

Plumbing Preventative – Drains

The best way to prevent drain clogs is to use caution when using them. Normal use can cause minor clogs, but usually only in the case where there is already an issue somewhere in the pipe.

Kitchen Drains

The most important thing for homeowners is to never put grease, fats, and oils in the kitchen drain.  Organic materials create more than just drain clogs, they can lead to unsightly drain smells.

Most homeowners take special care to drain pans of cooking grease into the trash or a jar before placing the cookware into the sink for washing. But, even the residual grease and oils left on pans, and plates, enter into the line. These fats easily stick to the inside of the pipe and buildup over time. This can close off the pipe so even water can become a clogging agent for garbage disposals. As the organic materials harden and rot, foul odors escape into the home and can even draw fruit flies.

Tip: Wipe down plates, pots, pans, and plates before rinsing them in the sink or putting them into the dishwasher.

Garbage disposals are another way to speed up kitchen clogs. Disposals are great additions to the home, but are only meant to push small particles down the line. Disposal manufactures make incredibly powerful disposals and claim to be able to break down even heavy duty food items. But, plumbers recommend avoiding putting leftovers down the sink at all times. Anyone who has had a backed up kitchen sink on Thanksgiving can tell you potato peels will wreak havoc on your drains.

Pro Tip: Scrape all food into the trash and when using the disposal, run cold water for approximately 30 seconds.

Bathroom Drains

Sinks – Most common clogs in bathroom sinks happen due to excess product buildup in the line or when items fall in. To eliminate product buildup, homeowners can run hot water in the drain after brushing their teeth, washing their face or using lotions. Men’s grooming can also lead to clogs, but can be avoided by placing something in the sink to catch falling hairs.

When an item falls in the sink, whether it is a toothpaste cap or expensive jewelry, it can fall into the drain getting stuck and causing a blockage. Having the proper pop-up assembly installed can help stop falling items from entering the drain.

Pro Tip: If a priceless item has fallen down the drain, stop using the water and immediately call one of our Professional plumbers. We can use a camera and attempt retrieval.

Showers – Hair is the number one cause of backed up shower drains. Even though most showers and tubs have a strainer permanently installed, the holes are usually too large to catch all of the hair.

As hair builds up, it can also cause pressure in the drain. If the drain is older, it could damage the pipes and cause leaks.

Pro Tip: Install a small mesh strainer in the shower or tub; they can be found in most local home stores.

Toilets – Toilet clogs can happen from normal use, problems further in the main sewer line, and abuse. There are many products available that claim to be flushable, but the only item that is truly safe to keep your toilets flushing easily is toilet paper.

If the toilet is clogged, but no other drains are, homeowners can attempt a plunger. However, only use plungers made for toilets specifically. When using the plunger, use proper force to avoid breaking the seal and causing a leak at the toilet base. Improper use of a plunger will do more harm than good.

Pro Tip: Do not put feminine hygiene products, paper towels, or any “flushable” product in the toilet.

Water Heaters – Plumbing maintenance for water heaters can help homeowners increase energy efficiency and get the most out of their water heater. An annual water heater flush is ideal for both tank and tankless water heaters.

For traditional tank water heaters, the flush empties the tank flushes out the sediment and replenished with fresh clean water. Sediment can eat away at the interior of the tank causing leaks and deterioration over time. Sediment also gets recirculated back into the home’s water supply and is hard on a home’s plumbing pipes and fixtures.

Tankless water heater flush services keep the mechanical components free of hard water buildup extending the life of the system.

Pro Tip: Schedule a water heater flush with a professional and licensed plumber every year.

Plumbing Fixture

Plumbing fixture leaks are most often caused by aging fixtures and excessive water pressure.  The best preventative maintenance is having an annual water pressure evaluation.

When the city water comes into the home, it is often too high. Our plumbers recommend installing a pressure regulating device.

Clogged fixtures, such as showerheads, are quite common in San Diego. Because of the hard water, scale can quickly build up and reduce water flow and eventually lead to a need for replacement.

Homeowners can install water filtration systems to protect their pipes and fixtures form hard water and clean them with calcium, lime, and rust removal products.

Pro Tip: Soak shower heads in hot water and vinegar and easily remove hard water buildup.

Water Line

Water lines inside of walls and underground can leak due to wear and tear, excessive pressure, and age of the home. Because they are not accessible, there is not a lot for homeowners to do to prevent leaks, but they can be aware of common signs of water leaks. At the first sign, schedule a plumber to assess the problem before it turns into a major issue causing water damage.

– Loss of water pressure
– Warm spots on floors
– Damp carpeting
– Mold or mildew growth along baseboards
– Water stains on ceilings
– Excessive water bills

Pro Tip: Install a whole home water filtration system and a pressure regulating device to keep pipes in top working condition.

Home plumbing maintenance is mostly achieved through homeowner vigilance and ensuring the proper plumbing systems are in place to protect your home. Homeowners can also schedule an annual plumbing inspection to assess any potential issues and make recommendations to keep your home protected and damage free.

For the best customer service and plumbing education for your home, trust the experts at Bill Howe. We have been serving San Diego for over 35 years. Our plumbers and drain specialists are trained, knowledgeable in troubleshooting all repairs, and make recommendations for keeping your home’s plumbing system in prime condition.

Call 1-800 BILL HOWE (245-5469), book an appointment online, or connect with us on Live Chat today.

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