Owning a home means owning homeowner problems, including the most infamous of homeowner problems: plumbing. If you’re worried that you’ll sink way too much money than necessary into your real estate investment (à la the poorly received 1986 movie, The Money Pit), follow along with this guide and we’ll help you make sure you don’t flush away thousands on home maintenance.
The first thing every homeowner should know when it comes to plumbing is what they’re able to repair on their own and what repairs they’ll need to call in backup for. Simple fixes include things like turning off the main water valve, turning off a water heater, fixing leaky pipes, stopping toilets from running, cleaning a shower head, unclogging a toilet, and fixing dripping faucets. You can easily learn these simple fixes from blogs and books, but when it comes to things like pipe blockages and burst pipes, you’ll want to immediately contact an expert to mitigate water damage, reduce the risk of personal injury, and avoid major property damages.
To supplement your budding plumbing knowledge, you’re also need some tools, like a plunger, a roll of duct tape, a pipe wrench, an auger, a snake, and an adjustable wrench. These can be purchased at any local hardware store. You should also pick up a maintenance book for those simple fixes.
Homeowners should also know where certain things are in their home, like water valves, cut-off valves, and the water heater. If a pipe springs a leak, knowing where to go to shut off the water could easily save you hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in water damage repairs. The same is true for gas system valves. The main water shutoff valve is usually in a warmer place, like a basement, attached to an exterior wall, or inside an underground box. If you can’t find the valves on your own, your local utility company might be able to help you out in find where they are. The water supply valves for toilets, sinks, and applications are much easier to spot, and are usually within a few feet of their distributor. But just because they’re easy to find doesn’t mean it’s safe to put cleaning supplies, plants, or furniture to cover them up. In the event of an emergency, you’ll need immediate access to them.
Maintaining Plumbing System
Accessing pipes also means maintaining the environment around pipes to ensure nothing corrosive is affecting them. Climate issues, like an unexpected hard freeze, can also cause issues. If you’re not home, make sure a trusted neighbor or family member is able to check on your pipes for you. You can also prevent pipe freezes by properly insulating your pipes, especially in crawl spaces, attics, and wherever your pipes are exposed.
Water heaters are a particularly troublesome staple of the home. While with regular maintenance and a good brand, water heaters have a lifespan of around 8 to 12 years, the location, design, quality of installation, and water quality will all impact the longevity of your unit. You should also know whether your water heater is electric or gas, in case you need to describe your issues over the phone with a plumber. Fixing or replacing a water heater can be a fairly expensive proposition, so it really helps to do regular maintenance on them, from checking the pressure valve and flushing the tank, to knowing how to light the pilot or connecting it to electric power.
If you’re in need of service manual resource for your water heater, you’re in luck: follow along here for handbooks on miscellaneous models for both commercial and residential uses.
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