Plumbing Advice for First Time Homeowners
Moving into your own home is an exciting time! There's a new sense of independence, the fun of getting to know your new neighbors, and the freedom of being able to make a space truly feel like your own. But for first-time homeowners, owning your own property can also be stressful.
Having your own home means that you have to take care of everything, from the cleaning to the plumbing. You’ve dealt with plumbing your whole life but the difference here is, now you own the pipes and are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance, welcome to homeownership.
This can all seem overwhelming and scary, but we are here to help. Here are our top plumbing tips that are helpful for first-time homeowners.
1. Know Where The Shut Off Valves Are (before you need them!)
If you do spring a leak, it’s essential to know where the shut-off valves are – for each appliance and for the whole house.
Water supply valves provide water to toilets, sinks, and appliances like washing machines and dishwashers. Knowing where each appliance’s valve is incredibly useful as you won’t have to turn the water off for the whole house if there’s a problem.
The quicker you can turn the water off at the mains, the better your chances of preventing any further water damage. Then you can fix the leak, and check if the pipe is ok or if it needs replacing.
You should also learn where the gas shut off valves are located.
2. Don't Block Access To Water Supply Valves
In the event of an emergency, you'll need to be able to turn the water supply off quickly. Having things like furniture or plants in the way of these valves will slow you down. Getting to the valves quickly is vital to prevent flooding, so keep all of the valves clear and easy to get to.
3. Useful Tools To Keep Around
- A good plunger (in every bathroom!)
- Adjustable wrench or a set of crescent wrenches
- Tongue-and-groove pliers
- A set of hex keys/Allen wrenches – you probably have one or two of these hanging around if you’ve ever built anything from IKEA, but having a full set of varying sizes is a handy addition to any toolbox.
- Screwdriver multi-tool – Every kitchen junk drawer needs to have one of these. They come with interchangeable screw heads of varying types and sizes.
- Clip light – small, bright, magnetic, rotates around the clip and wicked useful (Amazon)
- Auger and hand snake
4. Clean Your Shower & Tub Drain Often
Yes, it can be gross but face it, we all shed. Ignoring the drain buildup will cause problems later. Routinely clean out the drain a few times a year, more often if you have a house full of people with long locks. You can install a strainer on the tub and shower to stop debris before it goes down the drain and blocks up the pipes. If your shower or tub starts to drain slower and slower, you need to clean it out of call a professional to take care of clearing the blockage.
And never use a liquid drain cleaner. That stuff is nasty and can cause more damage to your pipes than it claims it can fix. Try a plunger or buy a hand drain snake instead.
5. Plungers Can Unclog All Sorts of Drains
There's nothing more annoying than a blocked drain in the sink, tub, shower or toilet. When soap, hair and other debris get into drains, it can clog them up and give you a lot of grief. Thankfully, it's usually easy enough to fix with a plunger.
Often overlooked on the first homeowner’s must-buy list, a plunger can save you a lot of headaches in the future.
If you’re stuck with a blocked toilet – check out our guide on how to unclog a toilet.
6. Fixing A Clogged Sink
A simple way to fix a clogged sink is to first pour baking soda, then vinegar, and then boiling hot water down it. Baking soda is mildly alkaline and it dissolves dirt and grease easily. Vinegar is a mild acid, and it's great for cleaning and deodorizing surfaces -especially important if your sink is clogged! If this doesn't work, a plunger can also be used to fix a clogged sink.
Another way to fix a clogged sink is to open up the sink’s piping and manually get rid of any foreign objects causing a problem. Obviously when doing this, keep a bucket under the sink, so the water doesn't get all over the floor!
If you’ve dropped something important down the drain and need help figuring out how to get it out – check out this blog post, Dropped it Down the Drain… Now What?.
7. Make Your Faucets Last Longer
Avoid turning faucets off too tightly. This makes the tap's seal wear out faster and means it will be more prone to leaks and other issues.
A little bit of waterproof lubricant every now and then will also prolong the life of the O-ring and the spindle. The O-ring stops water from leaking out around the spout of the tap.
8. A Sign Of Hard water
Pink or orange discoloration around your bathroom fixtures can indicate too much iron in your water. A water softener will take care of this problem for you. Don’t ignore hard water, it can damage pipes over time.
9. Replace Your Washing Machine Hoses Every 3-5 Years
Aging hoses can lead to leaks that can quickly lead to floods in the laundry room and surrounding areas.
10. Switch To Flexible Hoses On Your Toilets
Replace your toilet supply line with a new braided flexible hose and while you are at it, you might want to update the shutoff valve.
11. Take Care Of Your Outside Faucets
When the weather gets cold and freezing temps are eminent, cover your outdoor faucets and detach garden hoses to prevent frozen pipes.
12. Blue stains in sinks and around faucets.
In homes with well water and copper piping, acid can be a huge problem. High levels of acid in the well water reacts chemically to the copper pipes and erodes (eats away) your copper pipes. This reaction produces a cobalt blue residue that leaves a visible stain. If you notice a blue cobalt stain around drains or faucets mouths you need to call a professional to check the level of damage. In order to test how much damage has occurred, you need to cut out a small section of copper pipe that is hanging horizontally and look for thinning of the copper on the bottom side. As your pipe gets thinner eventually you will get pinhole leaks.
The good news is that the symptom is quite noticeable. If you catch the problem early, you can use an acid neutralizer in your well. If the damage is already done, you will need to replace some pip
13. Have A Reliable Plumbing Company You Can Call, Before You Need Them
One of the most important things for any first-time homeowner is to have a professional, reliable plumbing company.
This will give you peace of mind because if any issues do come up, you know that the problem will be fixed quickly and professionally. A good plumbing company will do the job right, the first time.
Some plumbing issues are too big to DIY, if you try to fix them by yourself you risk costing yourself a lot of time and money in the long run. A reliable plumbing company will help you keep your home's plumbing in tip-top condition.
Owning your first home is a big event in your life, but it doesn't have to be a scary one. If you're in need of a professional, reliable plumbing company to help you out, contact us? Our qualified plumbing technicians can help you out when you’re having a plumbing problem in your new home.