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Plumbing problems can cause serious damage to your University Park, Florida, home if you don’t find and fix them immediately. They can cause rotting, mold growth, and damage to your walls and flooring. Mold spores can also lower your indoor air quality and cause asthma attacks, allergies, skin irritation, and even lung damage. Take care of your plumbing by preventing clogs, looking for leaks, saving water, preserving your water heater, reducing pressure, and keeping sewers clear.

Preventing Clogs

Clogs in your drains can cause backed-up water put added pressure on your pipes, shortening their lifespan. You can avoid clogs by keeping food scraps out of kitchen drains, keeping hair out of bathroom drains, and avoiding anything but sewage and toilet paper in toilets. Install screens over the drains in your sinks, showers, and tubs and pull out any debris every few weeks to prevent buildups.

Even if you have a garbage disposal, scrape leftover food into the trash before you do your dishes. Before you run your disposal, turn your water on and leave it running for a few seconds afterward to help rinse debris down your drain. You also shouldn’t put liquid grease down your drain because it solidifies and causes clogs after it cools. For the same reason, you should avoid using bath oils.  

You can use a plunger to fix many slow or clogged drains, but you should contact a professional for severe clogs. Commercial drain cleaners or clog removers can damage your pipes if you use them too often, and stubborn clogs can produce bad smells from rotting food or other debris. A professional can protect your pipes and keep water from overflowing and damaging your floors.

Looking for Leaks

You should do a weekly inspection of your home’s plumbing to look for leaks, and remember to check your faucet handles and pipe valves. Other common places to look for leaks include shower heads, toilet flappers, and pipe fittings. If you don’t take care of leaks quickly, even small ones can cause expensive damage to your plumbing.

Signs of leaks include mold growth, a musty smell, and puddles of water. If your sink fills up with bubbles while it drains, then it’s draining slower than it should. If your sink works correctly, the water in it should form a smooth swirl as it drains. Locate the shut-off valve for your home’s water supply before you have plumbing problems. That way, you can stop leaks or broken pipes from causing more damage until a professional arrives.

You should also learn how to shut off the water supplies to sinks, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, and other water-using appliances, such as your refrigerator’s icemaker. Inspect the hose on your washer once per year and move the machine a few inches from the wall to prevent kinks, leaks, cracks, bulges, and other problems. Homes with basements often have a shut-off valve near the front foundation wall where the water main enters. If you don’t have a basement, the shut-off valve could be underneath your kitchen sink or near your water heater.

Conserving Water

Updating your plumbing fixtures can help you save money on your utility bills and extend your system’s life. Homeowners used to flush early water-saving toilets two or three times for every use, but newer models flush easily and reduce clogging problems. They can even increase the value of your home. You can also add an aerator or flow restrictor to your kitchen or bathroom faucet to save water, and new faucets with sensors can turn your water on and off automatically.

Gravity-flush toilets use a flush valve or flapper to remove water from the toilet bowl, while pressure-assist toilets have a tank that holds water under pressure. When the flush valve in a pressure-assist toilet opens, gravity and pressure create a loud, powerful flush. These types of pressure-assist toilets are often available in many public restrooms. You can also choose a vacuum-assist toilet with a vacuum tank connected to a large tube (called a trapway) that carries water away. The water flowing out of the tank helps remove waste by creating suction.

Add aerators or flow restrictors to your bathroom and kitchen faucets to save water as well. Aerators add air to the water from faucets to make their water pressure seem higher, and flow restrictors cut the flow of water. They’re both easy and inexpensive to install. New faucets with automatic sensors that turn your water on and off are available, and you can also add a low-flow showerhead for water savings and better temperature control.

Maintaining Your Water Heater

Hot water is essential for washing your dishes, taking a comfortable shower, and doing your laundry. Problems with your water heater could shorten its life, waste energy, or cause expensive water damage. You should lower your water heater temperature to save energy and keep it performing well. Also, water heaters can burn children if they’re set too high. Fortunately, most water heaters have a dial for adjusting their temperature nearby.

Gas water heaters have pilot lights that usually stay on all the time. That way, you can get hot water quickly when you need it. A water heater timer can help you save money by turning your pilot light off when you’re at work or asleep. It’s very similar to programmable thermostats. Sediment can also gather in the bottom of your hot water tank over time, shortening its life and causing rust and corrosion. You should have a professional connect a hose to the drain spout at the bottom of your tank and flush out debris twice per year.

Your water heater’s temperature and pressure relief, or TPR, valve opens if the temperature or pressure increases too much in an attempt to prevent an explosion. Homeowners should raise and lower the test lever on top of the water heater twice per year to check this important part. Hot water should rush out of the pipe below the valve, and you might need to replace it if no water comes out or you only see a small amount. Leave some space around your water heater so that a professional can get to it if you have problems.

Adjusting Your Water Pressure

High water pressure is great when you’re taking a shower or filling a pot in the kitchen, but it can put stress on your pipes and cause leaks. You can measure your water pressure with a hose bib gauge from a hardware store. Just attach it to an outside spigot and turn on the water. A plumber can install a pressure reducer to prevent problems from high water pressure.

If you turn on your water and it only trickles from your faucet, you probably have low water pressure from residue that can build up in older pipes, especially if you have hard water. Remove your faucet aerators and showerheads, get rid of any debris or deposits, and then replace them. You should contact a professional if you still have low water pressure, especially since it could come from clogged pipes, a serious leak, pipes that are too small, or a problem with your local water supply.

Keeping Your Sewer Lines or Septic Tank Clear

If you have a municipal sewer system, you should hire a plumber to snake your main sewage pipe and remove tree roots every few years. If you have a septic tank, you should get it pumped out by a professional. Don’t use exposed pipes as hangers for laundry because the weight can loosen joints and fasteners.

Also, remove hoses from outdoor pipes and spigots in winter to keep frozen water from cracking a pipe and causing a flood. You should add insulation to pipes in cold areas, such as your garage or basement, to prevent frozen pipes, save energy, and shorten your wait for hot water.

Aqua Plumbing & Air is a Factory Authorized Carrier Dealer with over 75 service vehicles. We can help you with your plumbing, your HVAC system, or your electrical system, and we can install, maintain, and repair a variety of equipment. Call us anytime at (941) 306-3715 for excellent service from our professional and experienced technicians.

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