KMP Enrichment Blog By David Applegate, EHS Manager
Along with the joys of owning your own home also comes the responsibilities of keeping-up with the constant maintenance and numerous repairs. Many of us have learned valuable lessons and acquired handy skills that until now we may not have needed to learn. For instance, to keep our yard in check many of us have become “small-engine mechanics.” Others of us had to watch a You Tube video on how to patch a hole in the wall. How were any of us able to know all the skill that is involved, and the many tools that are needed to hang a door in our home?
If this short list seems daunting (and I have not even mentioned plumbing issues), then I want to give you some helpful advice. Last month and this month I have put together a small, but hopefully helpful, list of valuable tips each of us should know when it comes to the water that flows into and out of our homes. And the many pipes, fittings and plumbing items that make-up the plumbing systems within our home. The following is the second half of my Top 10 Plumbing Tips every homeowner should know.
- Know the signs of a leaky sewer line.
If, on the outside of your home you discover slowly accumulating pools of murky, smelly water or muddy soil in your yard you may have a sewer line leak. Or, you may have odd things happening on the inside of your home. For instance, your toilet may be filling with wastewater when you run water in the sinks or bathtubs. Yes, you can choose to dig up the sewer line yourself, locate the broken pipe or problem, and then fix it. This, however, is a huge do-it-yourself repair and may take several days to finish.
Currently, it is important to have the number of a trusted plumbing company. They can come to your home and do a sewer line video inspection through the sewer line clean-out. They then can assess the problem and make the needed and correct repairs in a timely manner.
- Know a local plumbing company that you can trust.
Now, unless you are a professional licensed plumber it will be in your best interest to add a local plumbing company to your rolodex (do they even make those anymore?). As a homeowner you can sleep much easier knowing that you have someone you trust that is only a phone call away. Because not every plumbing issue that comes up is an easy DIY fix.
One great way to start your relationship with a new plumbing company is to have them come to your home before there are problems and let them look at your home and the plumbing system. They can help you with a maintenance program or even suggest or recommend some needed repairs.
- Do not turn off the heat.
It is imperative that as a homeowner you know exactly what to do during the months of cold weather. Cold temperatures can cause water pipes to freeze. When water begins to freeze inside a pipe it creates a large volume of pressure which will cause the pipe to burst and create a serious amount of damage. The best way to stop this from happening is to keep the pipes above the freezing level. As a homeowner you can do this with any one of the following steps or with any combination of these steps.
If you are planning to leave your home for a long period of time do not turn off the heat. Now for sure, the thermostat does not need to be set at the temperature you normally keep while you are home. Keeping it set, however, above 50 degrees is a good and prudent idea. This setting should supply enough heat to keep the pipes in your home warm and prevent them from freezing.
- Let the faucets drip.
Again, if you are planning to be gone for any length of time during the cold weather it is best to allow the faucets in your home to drip. When you allow the faucets to be open and the water to trickle through the pipes it relieves the pressure in the system. By allowing the system to be open you will prevent pressure from building up and therefore keep the pipes from bursting. Yes, there may be a slight bump in your next water bill, but that is a small price to pay compared to a major home repair.
- Do not close your interior doors.
Often time our pipes are in cabinets. When the cold weather arrives, it is a good practice to keep the cabinet doors open so that the heat in the rest of the home can keep the plumbing system warm as well.
A bonus tip for the graduate level DIY homeowner!
The first response that many homeowners have when confronted with a clogged drain is to reach for the numerous chemical drain cleaning products that are available in the Do-It-Yourself homeowner stores. I suggest avoiding this like the Plague. The immediate quick fix that is often advertised is also costly in the long run. These chemicals can cause and will do irreversible damage to your homes plumbing system.
If you think that the clog can be remedied with a drain cleaner there is a homemade cleaner that is safe and friendly to use in your drainpipes. Here is what the recipe requires: take ½ a cup of Baking Soda and ½ a cup of Vinegar. The first step is to heat the Vinegar by bringing it to a boil. Then, pour the Baking Soda down the clogged drain. After that, pour the hot Vinegar that you boiled down the same drain. When the Vinegar and the Baking Soda combine you will notice that the mixture begins to fizz. This is a sign that the mix is doing its job. When the fizzing has stopped you can then pour hot water into the drain to finish clearing the pipe.
If this is not able to resolve the issue, then your best plan of action is to call the plumber that you have listed on your rolodex. Upon their arrival they can assess the problem and take the necessary action to repair and remedy the problem.
In the end, you as homeowners, must realize that your efforts are only temporary. The day will come when your plumbing system fails beyond your ability to manage the repair. It is inevitable. When this happens, it is your duty as a homeowner to be prepared. That is why you need to know and be friends with a local plumbing company that you can trust. They are the experts. They have the necessary tools and skills to fix any plumbing issue that may happen in your home. Most plumbing problems are not easy to fix which is why you need the help of a licensed plumber that is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. They are ready and able to protect you, your family and your home from a possible plumbing disaster.