Important Plumbing Maintenance Tips
Life without plumbing would be a rather big challenge for modern households. Without sturdy pipes to channel water for our kitchens, bathrooms, laundries, outdoors, and commercially, our health and wellbeing would undoubtedly suffer, so it’s best not to take plumbing systems for granted.
In Australia, we probably take sanitation and clean drinking water for granted. Still, these systems can very quickly malfunction in emergencies such as bushfires and floods. In these conditions, things can become dire. Diseases are spread via contaminated water and can lead to serious outbreaks.
However, even under normal circumstances, it’s essential to keep your pipes, fixtures and appliances maintained. A flooded bathroom or kitchen can result in the need for significant repairs that could mean a call to the bank for a renovation loan! So to avoid the need for such drastic action, here are some DIY maintenance tips you can follow and some information on the tools you will need. For instance, here at Just Tools, we have a great little Milwaukee 14-piece Hole Dozer Plumbing Set and all the plumbing tools you’ll ever need.
Taps and Sinks
It’s surprising how much water you can waste through leaking taps (not to mention the annoyance of hearing them drip). In a year or just a few months, a constantly dripping tap can drain away thousands of litres of water and money because water is costly. If it’s a hot water tap, then that’s a hike for your power bill. If your tap is leaking from the base, you might not even know about it. So, always check if there’s moisture around or underneath your sinks and bathroom basin, and if you find a leaking tap, you can fix it. Remove and clean your taps’ aerators once a year to make sure you have an even flow of water. Also, clear the overflow holes in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry sinks to prevent damage to your floors and cupboards.
Another way to waste heaps of water is through leaking toilets. A large leak is evident with water continually running into the bowl. However, check for little leaks by pouring some food colouring (cochineal) into the cistern (make sure nobody uses the toilet during this check-up) and after a while take a look to see if the bowl is showing any colouring. If you see colour, and you can't fix it yourself, you might need a plumber.
Drains commonly get blocked by hair and soap so to help avoid problems, fit bath, basin and shower plugholes with strainers and clean them regularly. Don't ever pour fat or oil into any sink (usually the kitchen) because while they’re hot and liquid after cooking, fat and oils harden in the pipes and a significant blockage can result. Don’t ever use any caustic drain cleaning products such as Drano to try to clear a blocked drain. If a plunger doesn’t work, try some of these DIY drain unblocking tips:
Bicarb Soda and Vinegar
The reaction of these two household ingredients can loosen the blockage:
- Pour a litre of almost boiling water down the blocked drain
- Pour half a cup of bicarb soda down the drain and wait five minutes
- Pour a cup of plain vinegar and a cup of almost boiling water down the drain
- Place the plug in the drain hole and leave for 10 minutes
- Sluice another lot of almost boiling water in the drain to help dislodge any remaining blockage.
Garbage Disposal Tips
- Don't overload your garbage disposal system
- When you’re running it, remember always use lots of cold water.
- As with sinks, don’t ever use a caustic drain cleaner in it.
- Never drop bones or other food scraps down into it.
What You Should Never Do
Some other hints on keeping your pipes undamaged, unblocked and clean, NEVER:
- Empty tea leaves or coffee grounds in your sink - can block it
- Pour hot water into the toilet bowl - it might crack
- Put a shelf for knick-knacks over your toilet (things can fall into it and cause a blockage).
- Hang a shelf for heavy objects over a sink
- Use mechanical cleaning devices in your cistern.
- Throw disposable nappies or sanitary pads in the toilet.
- Use toilet tank lid for a shelf.
- Let children play with small toys in the bathroom.
- Plant large shrubs/trees over sewer lines.
- Dig deep trenches or holes before finding sewer, water, and gas lines.
- Put onion skin, corn husks, artichokes, celery or other vegetables high in fibre into your garbage disposal.
- Leave washing machine taps turned on - same for dishwashers, and garden hoses - when not in use.
Areas that need regular maintenance:
- Taps (washers, leaks)
- Toilet cisterns (rubbers)
- Hot water systems (release relief valve twice a year)
- Gutters and downpipes (clean leaves)
- Garbage disposal (flush often)
- Stormwater pipes (slow discharge means blockage)
- Sewer Pipes (slow flushing toilet means blockage)
- Check your water meter. All dials should be still if no water is running - if not, there's a leak somewhere.
Alex Morrison has worked with a range of businesses giving him an in depth understanding of many different industries including home improvement, financial support and health care. He has used his knowledge and experience to work for clients as diverse as MyHome Clean, Cosh Living and Acacia Pest Control to help them reach their business goals.