Home ownership has its privileges, but it also has its struggles. How many times you have muttered “gotta love home ownership” under your breath as you mopped up a leak or dialed your electrician’s number? Even if you do have a dripping faucet or slow drains, costly plumbing problems isn’t something you think about often, and preventative maintenance probably isn’t on your short list of things to do this weekend. Who wants to drain hoses and check for leaks behind toilets when there are more entertaining options to consider (Netflix, anyone)?
While it’s true that household to-dos aren’t much fun, ignoring them can contribute to costly plumbing-related problems. These five culprits can eat into your rainy-day savings, but there are some simple things you can do to keep your home from becoming a money pit and keep your piggy bank filled for more important (or exciting) things that are (Please, God) in our near future.
The Culprit: Plugged Drains
Potential Savings: $200
According to Angie’s List, calling in professional plumbing help to unplug a drain will cost between $109 and $214, depending on your location and how severe the problem is.
Rather than ignoring that slow-draining sink or tub, treat your drains as follows every three months:
- Pour ½ cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by ½ cup of vinegar.
- Cover the drain opening and allow the mixture to soak for 20 minutes.
- Rinse with hot water.
The Culprit: Dripping Fixtures
Potential Savings: $500
Faucets and showerheads aren’t manufactured to withstand non-stop water flow. Even slow drips cause gaskets and washers to wear out quickly, which then allows more water to seep past the valve. If left unchecked, you’ll find yourself replacing the entire fixture—or hiring someone to do it for you—at a cost of $90 to more than $500.
To avoid prematurely spending money on new fixtures:
- Inspect every faucet, showerhead, and valve for drips and leaks at least twice per year.
- Replace washers and gaskets as necessary.
- Clean mineral deposits from your showerhead by soaking it in vinegar.
The Culprit: Water Heater Failures
Potential Savings: $1000
We rarely think about our water heaters, but they’re an integral part of our everyday routines. And when they fail, we can take a bath (see what we did there?)—at an average cost of $1000.
If you take good care of your water heater, it’ll keep your showers nice and hot for up to eight years. To avoid prematurely replacing it:
- Check your temperature-pressure-regulator (TPR) valve every year.
- Flush the sediment from the bottom every six months to a year.
- Check the anode rode every year.
- Keep the temperature at about 120-degrees.
- Insulate the pipes and tank to maximize efficiency and extend the unit’s life.
If you find a problem, and/or it’s been 10 years or more since you bought your water heater, it’s likely time for an upgrade. Learn more here.
The Culprit: Burst Pipes
Potential Savings: $8000
According to the Insurance Information Institute, claims related to water damage and freezing average $8,861. Pipes burst for two reasons: a surge in water pressure or freezing temperatures.
To avoid a plumbing disaster:
- Periodically test your water pressure using a pressure gauge and/or add a pressure regulator to your system.
- Insulate exposed pipes for the winter, especially those near exterior walls or in unheated areas of your home.
- Detach and drain garden hoses and sprinkler systems in preparation for freezing temperatures. If your outdoor spigots aren’t frost-free, be sure to shut off the valves, drain any remaining water, and install a foam cover.
The Culprit: Sewer Line or Septic Tank Failures
Potential Savings: $7,000+
It’s difficult to estimate the cost of a sewer or septic tank failure. You’ll have to repair or even replace the system itself (up to $7,000 for septic tankand $3,000 for a main sewer line), and you’ll likely have several thousands of dollars in damage to your home and property.
To avoid a sewage emergency:
- Have your septic tank inspected regularly.
- Hire a professional to clean your sewer lines every 18 to 24 months.
- Avoid pouring grease down your kitchen sink.
- Only flush sewer-friendly items.
St. Louis-area homeowners have trusted Maplewood Plumbing and Sewer with their preventive maintenance and emergency plumbing needs for more than 30 years. Give us a call at 314-207-2503 or fill out the contact form here for more information or to request a bid.
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