Everyone wants to save money, but when it comes to plumbing, it’s easy for minor plumbing problems to become catastrophic repairs. Not all plumbing problems are complex and there is plenty of information available to help you. If you have the tools, the time and the know-how, it’s great to perform necessary repairs on your own house.To help you make intelligent choices about the maintenance of your plumbing system, here are a few important tips:
- The perfect union: Residential water systems are often a mixture of copper and galvanized steel pipes. Joining the two can create immediate corrosion when not separated by more than thread sealant. A special fitting called a dielectric union uses steel and copper collars and isolation bushings to keep the parts from coming in direct contact, thereby avoiding the corrosive action.
- Free flow, not back flow: Sudden changes in water pressure cause water to back up into a home’s water pipes. This happens if you have a massive water leak inside the house or if the municipal system suffers a broken water main or damaged fire hydrant. A vacuum-breaker fitting threads onto the end of the valve on the outside of the house and prevents back flow from a garden hose in case of dramatic changes in water pressure.
- Universal connection: Leaky gas lines are no joke and can happen easily when new equipment such as a new stove or dryer is connected to existing gas lines. If the fit isn’t perfect, you cannot tighten the connection well enough to stop leaks, no matter how well you tighten it. To address this compatibility problem, purchase a universal connection kit which comes with a variety of parts and adapters to ensure a snug connection from the gas supply line to the appliance.
- Find pipes and wires: Stud sensors are available to find pipes and wiring as well as studs. You can avoid damaging pipes and wiring when driving screws and nails into the walls by using such a sensor, and by looking at the pipes in your attic or basement to have an idea where they are in relation to the other rooms in your home.
- Follow the codes: One of the most expensive plumbing problems you can have is replacing work that is not in compliancewith local codes. They determine the size of the pipes, fixture spacing and a huge number of other details that can mean costly remedies when out of compliance. You can use the International Plumbing Code or Uniform Plumbing Code to look up what you need to know, or use Code Check, a handbook that is updated to comply with changing building codes and covers many common problems.
- Neatness counts: A perfect seal for a water or gas joints cannot be achieved without a neat cut. You must completely remove burrs from pipes, and thoroughly clean the surfaces before you glue or solder the plumbing elements. Use a plumber’s cloth to abrade copper surfaces, and use material-specific primer on plastics to promote a healthy bond. If the pipe is contaminated by grease or grime, use pipe cleaner before you apply the primer.
- Fill the gaps: Any connection that is not soldered or glued needs sealant to prevent leaks. There are no exceptions. You can use tapes, available for both water and gas connections, or brush-on varieties formulated specifically for plastic or galvanized steel.
- Not too tight: With all the concerns about leaking, you might think that there is no such thing as too tight, but that is not true. One of the reasons you must give so much care to proper fit is that plumbing fixtures are fairly soft and subject to severe damage from over-tightening. Brass and copper are more prone to damage than steel.
- Check for leaks: Whether you are working with a valve, pipe or drain, inspect your work carefully before moving on. Turn on cold and hot water several times and inspect the line each time. Check gas lines with a leak detector, an inexpensive liquid sold at plumbing supply stores.
- Skip the additives: Save the additives for the swimming pool because no enzymes or chemical treatments can reduce the need to pump the septic tank. In fact, chlorine bleach and other chemicals may kill the beneficial bacteria that is critical to the system.
When you have plumbing problems that should be addressed by a professional, call Aqua Plumbing & Air at (941) 306-3715. We’ve been bringing the people in the Sarasota area expertise and exemplary customer service for more than 39 years.