For homeowners, there are a few unavoidable realities. Chief among them is that if you own your home long enough, sooner or later you will have to contend with plumbing problems. Here are a few top plumbing tips to help you put them off as long as possible… and to deal with them with minor headaches when they come.

Know where your pipes come into your home

Particularly in climates where temperatures dip below freezing in the winter, knowing where the pipes enter your home can be a lifesaver. Because this is a weak spot, relatively speaking, with the least amount of insulation, where pipes are nearest to being exposed, it can be the spot where pipes freeze. So figure out where this is, and if pipes do freeze, warm this spot first. You can buy heating coils specially designed to keep these pipes from freezing. You may want to consult a plumbing professional about the proper application.

Plumbing Tips From Pros

Top Plumbing Tips From Pros

Know where your house’s main shut-off valve is

Related to the tip above, knowing how to shut off water to the whole house can help prevent damage in the event of pipe failure. You’ll also need to know where the shut-off valve is in case you get any plumbing work done. All plumbers will know how to find this valve, but you can save time in a crisis by being able to point it out. If you have a broken pipe leaking water into living spaces, knowing how to shut off the valve at the entry point of the home can prevent extensive water damage.

Be careful what you flush

It’s sometimes tempting to flush away bulkier items. If you’ve ever had young children, you know this is often a favorite experiment of theirs as well. But even something as seemingly flushable as a paper towel can lodge itself in your pipes and wreak havoc on your plumbing. So keep it safe and only flush what’s labeled flushable.

Keep plumbers’ tape on hand

If a leak is getting to the point where it requires plumbers’ tape, you’ll probably want to call a plumber. But having plumbers’ tape on hand is a good idea to seal pipe threads and other junctions to tide you over until you get a professional in to take a look.

Keep an eye out even for leaks that look insignificant

Is water trickling out around a fixture? Is there a small water stain on a ceiling from a fixture on the floor above? Even things that appear minor can be causing havoc inside walls, where you can’t see them. Investigate every small leak as soon as you spot it, and inspect around fixtures and around any plumbing that runs on the inside of walls that face outside, as those are most prone to failure.

Don’t get rid of grease in the drain

Grease looks liquid when it’s warm or even sometimes at room temperature. Put it into contact with cold water, however, and it solidifies, often around anything else in pipes like clumps of hair. It can soon create a clog that backs up the whole house. So do yourself a favor and dispose of grease with garbage and not down the drain, no matter how tempting it seems.

Invest in an inexpensive wet-dry vac

Did junior somehow get the toy car down the shower drain? You’ll want to try to suction it out. A plunger will most likely drive it deeper. A wet-dry vacuum can also come in handy in the event of a leak, a water tank failure, or any other time when you need to get rid of any spilled water. You don’t want to have to go shopping for one in the middle of a leak or other water crisis.

Use a strainer in your kitchen sink

This sounds like a no-brainer, but particularly if you’ve bought an old house, the sink doesn’t always come with a strainer. You can buy one inexpensively at most housewares stores, and even at the dollar store. This can prolong the life of your pipes by preventing kitchen gunk from going down the pipes. This is one of those instances where prevention is better than cure. We hope this top plumbing tip for the kitchen sink helps!

Find a reliable plumber

It’s a good idea to have the number of a dependable local plumber in your contacts. You don’t want to start trying to find a professional while you’re ankle-deep in water in your basement. Maintaining the integrity of your pipes is a good investment in your home, and a keen-eyed plumber will often be able to head off issues at the pass by alerting you to signs of wear and the need for other routine maintenance.

Homeownership can be a joy, and it also has the capacity for being a bit of a money pit. By noting these top plumbing tips, you can maintain the health of your pipes for a long time to come.
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