Plumbing systems can be complex. Professional plumbers understand local regulations and building codes to reduce risks related to safety issues. Thankfully, there are several tips and tricks that Skagit County residents can use to their advantage and make plumbing projects easier and less stressful.
If you don’t find the tips that you need for your upcoming plumbing project in today’s article, you can contact a professional plumbing service, like Full Speed Plumbing.
1. Turn off the water
As soon as a plumbing emergency arises, you should first switch off your water source to reduce damage and buy time to contact a plumber – in certain circumstances, it may save money!
A homeowner’s ability to cut off the water in their house is beneficial for plumbing repairs and in case of an emergency like a busted pipe.
At home, most households’ main water valve is usually found where the line enters; you can access this by turning its knob or handle clockwise. In some instances, however, you may require accessing your city water meter box from across the street using a water meter key – an expensive proposition but worthwhile in most situations.
If you’re new to using valves or need to know their location or function, practice is key! Show everyone in your household where the valves are so they can help out in an emergency.
Ball or lever-type valves can be operated easily; turn until they’re perpendicular to the pipe (using “lefty-loosey, righty-tighty” as an indicator). For gate valves, however, the entire mechanism needs to be closed by turning it counterclockwise until tight!
2. Check the valve
If you are dealing with a plumbing emergency like a burst pipe, knowing where the main shutoff valve is can save time and money in costly water damage and complications that might otherwise arise.
Every fixture in your home, including sinks and toilets, has isolation valves that allow you to switch off water access for each fixture individually. These handles can be readily rotated clockwise or counterclockwise to access and shut off, even if they could be challenging to find. It is recommended to test these valves annually to ensure everything functions as it should.
If you can’t find your house’s valve, search its perimeter. Check your basement or crawlspace; otherwise, check garage storage units, utility rooms near water heaters, and outside your property line where your water may come in from.
For instance, a rectangular metal cover flush with the ground is often marked “water meter.” These should be easily turned by hand without tools being needed – although you may require special meter keys in some instances to open them.
3. Check the leak
Leaks in pipes can be an urgent plumbing emergency that should be dealt with immediately to protect your home’s structure and health. Water bills could skyrocket, so contacting a plumber immediately as soon as you notice one will allow them to stop it before it causes further damage and costs you even more.
Inspect your water meter if you need help determining where a leak is coming from. Ensure all water sources have been shut off and that its dial does not move – if it does, then there is likely a leak somewhere within your home, likely along the line running from your meter to it.
Check for leaks under your sinks and in areas under tubs, toilets, and showers. Look for puddles or damp spots; if you see one, turn off all water in that area and contact a plumber immediately.
Sagging walls or stained ceilings could also indicate hidden leaks due to expansion and contraction in pipes, which are issues that need immediate attention.
4. Clean the drains
Every day, food scraps, soap scum, hair, and other debris wash down our drains, leading to buildup that eventually results in clogs. Clogged drains can become an urgent plumbing emergency if left untreated – and can even lead to sewer backups and water damage throughout your home! Luckily, regular drain cleaning can often prevent these costly plumbing emergencies!
Signs that a drain or toilet is clogged include bad odors from drains and sewer vents, sinks draining slower than expected, or toilets backing up when flushed.
Cleaning a drain may involve using either a manual plunger or homemade DIY drain cleaner – both are better options than chemical-based ones, which could damage plumbing lines in the long run. While still safe for most pipes, pouring vinegar and baking soda down the drain may also assist in removing clogs.
Avoid placing wipes, feminine hygiene products, coffee grounds, and grease that could clog your drain into the toilet; place these in the trash or compost. Another effective method for keeping drains and pipes free from blockages is to periodically utilize biodegradable enzymatic drain cleaners.