Spring Cleaning- Plumbing Edition

The most efficient and trouble-free household plumbing systems don’t come about by accident. Regular inspection and routine maintenance are the secrets to longevity. Keeping a yearly eye on things is also a great way to avoid costly surprises that could have been prevented.

Spring is an excellent time to get your plumbing maintenance done. We’ve had a record amount of rain in the Bay Area this year which means an abundance of vegetation, animal and insect life as well as soil runoff and ground saturation. All of this can impact your plumbing system in negative ways.

So, let’s take a look at the areas to inspect to help you avoid the need for plumbing repair.

  • If you have yard drains, ensure they are open and able to allow water to flow freely.
  • Natural drainage areas should be cleared of debris and, if necessary, add small rocks to the flow line to prevent excessive erosion or to fortify areas that have already begun to erode over the rainy season.
  • Check all the roof gutters and down spouts and clear as needed.
  • If you can get up on the roof, check the plumbing vent pipes. A blocked vent pipe will create clog effects in fixtures connected to that vent and you may spend a lot of time trying to find the problem beneath the fixture, when it is in fact over your head.
  • Check all the outside faucets and hose connections to ensure they are working, and no leaks have developed.
  • Check for signs of a plumbing leak. To detect a leak, ensure no water is running in your house or on your property. Particularly ensure no automatic water system is engaged, such as irrigation systems, icemakers, sprinklers and so forth. Go look at your water meter. Check the low flow indicator. If the wheel is spinning, you are losing water through a leak. Time to call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in the Bay Area. We’ll find it and fix it, efficiently and correctly.
Kitchens and Bathrooms
  • Now is the time to clean all your faucet filters and showerheads. Unscrew the screen in the front of each faucet and soak in white vinegar. Remove the front of the showerheads and inspect for calcium deposits. Soak in white vinegar. You might have to poke the holes in the shower head with a toothpick to remove hard deposits, but your work will be worth it. You’ll get a stronger water flow with the same economical shower head. You can also simply replace the shower head.
  • Check under sinks and behind toilets for evidence of water feed leaks.
  • If you have rooms below bathtubs, look for any signs of water leakage.
  • Do your toilets flush properly? Does the new water pool up high enough? If not, check the flushing apparatus in the toilet tank. Often a hose has come loose, or the plunger chain is tangled. Also, if your toilet always sounds like the water is running, it is time to change out worn out tank parts. They are inexpensive and besides, improperly running toilets waste more water than any other appliance in your house.
  • It doesn’t hurt to check your toilets for leaks that might not be immediately apparent. Add a few drops of food coloring to the water in the tank and wait a half hour without flushing. Has the color migrated to the water in the bowl? You have a slow leak that is wasting water. Over time this leak will increase. Inspect the tank parts and replace.
  • Take out everything you’ve stored from under your sinks in the bathrooms and kitchen and inspect for water leaks either in the water lines or the drain lines. Also note the grouting or caulking around the sinks. Is it old or showing gaps? If so, splashed water from the faucet could be leaking through this seal into the space below.
  • Check beneath the kitchen sinks to evaluate the condition of the line from the dishwasher into the garbage disposal and ensure it isn’t kinked or leaking – if left without repair, the floor of your home could be damaged.
  • This is a good time to clean out all your floor drains, such as in tubs and showers. Pay particular attention to any slow drains. Buy an inexpensive plastic drain snake. Take off the drain cover and any screens and run that snake up and down to catch any gunk that is accumulating. If you are not interested in DIY repairs, call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and we will get your drains working as they should with just a short visit.
  • If you have a sump pump, check to see that it is still working properly by pouring a few gallons of water into the sump pit to see that it starts up and efficiently clears the water. While many pumps have sealed motors blockages in the input our output lines can cause it to burn out.
  • Check ceilings and rafters for water stains that could be coming from appliances upstairs. Then follow this up by investigating what is directly overhead.
  • This is a good time to do some routine maintenance on your water heater.
    • Check that it is set to 120 degrees F. This is as hot as you will ever need.
    • Flush out the tank to remove sediment that may have settled there. Drain a few gallons until the water coming out is clear. This water is very hot, so attach a hose to the drain first and ensure it is emptying in a place where it will not damage anything.
    • Check the anode for war or corrosion and replace if necessary.
    • Consider wrapping the hot water and cold water pipes with insulation and the body of the hot water heater with sheets of quilted insulation. It helps save energy and prevents heat loss as the water travels to your faucets.
    • If your water heater is more than fifteen years old, consider replacing it. Today’s heaters are far more energy efficient while still able to serve up hot water fast.

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing offers a comprehensive spring cleaning plumbing inspection that covers all these points and more. We can often fix many of the issues that may come up in minutes, in a single house call. This not only saves you time and money but helps ensure you avoid any unwanted plumbing surprises. Give us a call!