For most homeowners, plumbing maintenance and upkeep can quickly become an afterthought in the daily rush of life. Keeping up with home maintenance and cleaning is hard enough: taking care of pipes, water heaters, and faucets that only rarely have problems often gets pushed to the bottom of the checklist.
However, our recommendation is that you set aside some time to maintain and care for your home’s plumbing. Even a small amount of forethought and preventative maintenance for your water heater and pipes can make a big difference and help avert major problems down the road. In this article, we’ll review the positive impacts of dealing with hard water, water pressure, and water heater problems proactively instead of reactively.
Soften your water
Many parts of the United States have municipal water that is considered either “hard” or “very hard.” Hard water can have a number of negative effects on your home, ranging from the cosmetic water stains on your dishes and faucets to the more serious buildup of scale inside of your home’s pipes. Hard water is also rough on the inside of your dishwasher, washing machine, and water heater—in the case of laundry, hard water can even sap the color and texture of clothing over time.
The best long-term solution to this problem is to have a local plumber install a whole-home water softener. These systems soften water as it enters your home, ensuring that all of your pipes, appliances, and faucets are protected from the impact of hard water.
Watch your water pressure
In some ways, the pipes in your home are analogous to the blood vessels in your own body. Much like your own blood pressure impacts your overall health, water pressure can impact the health of your home’s plumbing. Many homes have too high of water pressure, which in turn puts pressure on your pipes, faucets, water heater, and appliances. At 80 PSI or higher, you’ll start to notice water spitting from the faucet aerator when you turn on the sink, or hear pipes banging when you start the shower in the morning.
The good news is that lowering your water pressure is a relatively straightforward process. First, you’ll want to check your water pressure using a pressure gauge. Measure at the junction where water first arrives at your home from the municipal source. If the reading is higher than 60 PSI, call a trusted, local plumber in your area and ask them to install a water pressure regulator. This equipment lowers the water pressure, sparing your home’s plumbing from added wear-and-tear.
A little water heater upkeep goes a long way
Your water heater helps keep your home running, whether it’s the morning shower or post-dinner dishes. Any type of water heater problems mean a major interruption of this routine. In a worst-case scenario, however, a water heater leak or tank failure can cause major property damage. The good news is that there are several steps you as a homeowner can take to ensure that your water heater continues to operate properly and safely.
On a regular basis, make sure that you examine and test the pressure relief valve on your water heater. Most water heater tank bursts are caused by a faulty pressure relief valve: with nowhere for the added pressure to go, the (typically corroded) tank wall fails. One exacerbating factor in water heater problems is the temperature setting. Without knowing it, many homeowners have their water heaters set too hot—not only does this mean added pressure inside the tank, but it could result in unnecessary higher energy bills as well.
Call a professional plumber for help with draining your water heater or replacing the anode rod. In the case of the latter, replacing a spent anode rod midway through the life of the unit (about 4-5 years after purchase) can greatly extend its life. That’s because the anode rod attracts corrosion away from the tank walls.
Don’t procrastinate—call in an expert at the first sign of trouble
Plumbing problems don’t magically fix themselves. Plumbing maintenance and upkeep won’t happen on its own. In both cases, the ball is your court. Our recommendation is two-fold: stay on top of your regular plumbing maintenance to help prevent issues from arising, but—if they do—make a quick call to your local plumber. Many plumbing problems that start small (“just a little leak”) can soon balloon into bigger, more expensive repairs.
For more tips on keeping your home’s plumbing and pipes in great condition throughout the life of your home, be sure to check out this infographic from the team at Southern Air in Louisiana: