How to Prevent the 5 Most Common Plumbing Problems
“Oh, the joys of home ownership.”
If you’ve owned a home for any length of time, you’ve probably uttered this phrase (sarcasm included). Sure, home ownership is part of the American Dream, but it also has its share of nightmares. Leaky basements, backed up toilets, broken water heaters… the list of potential issues could keep you busy every weekend of the year.
While maintaining the inner-workings of your home is important, it’s not something you can see, like cleaning the kitchen or mowing the grass, so it tends to get pushed to “next week” on your to-do list. Even if you do have a dripping faucet or slow drains, preventative plumbing 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?
While it’s true that addressing plumbing problems isn’t much fun, ignoring them can contribute to costly service calls. These five plumbing problems 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.
Plumbing Problem: Plugged Drains
Approximate amount saved: $200
According to Angie’s List, calling in professional plumbing help to unplug a drain will cost anywhere between $100 and $275, depending on your location and the severity of the problem.
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.
Plumbing Problem: Dripping Fixtures
Approximate amount saved: $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.
Plumbing Problem: Water Heater Failures
Approximate amount saved: $1000
If you take good care of your water heater, it’ll take care of you – providing hot baths and showers for up to eight years. To avoid early replacement:
- 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.
Plumbing Problem: Burst Pipes
Approximate amount saved: $8,000
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.
Plumbing Problem: Sewer Line or Septic Tank Failures
Approximate amount saved: $7,000—or much more
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 tank and $3,000 for a main sewer line), and you’ll likely suffer several thousands of dollars in damage to your home and property.
To avoid a sewage emergency:
- Have your septic tank inspected regularly.
- Hire a pro to inspect and clean your sewer lines every 18-24 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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