Ask the Inspector: Plumbing Checkup
By Rich Duerkop
What should I be aware of about the plumbing in my home, both new and older construction?
You should frequently check all faucets and other valves for leaks.Turn the water on, look under the sink, and run your hand around the shut-off and drain pipes to make sure they are not leaking. Then go down to the basement and check for leaks. A good way to remind yourself is to mark your calendar and check these areas every change of the season.
If you see any water staining in the walls or the ceiling call a licensed plumber right away.
If your water pressure in an older home appears marginal or poor remember your old pipes may be corroded. I have seen pipes so full of corrosion the opening is no bigger than the lead of a pencil. When pipes get like this the only thing you can do is call a licensed plumber and have them removed.
When you check the toilet listen for hissing sounds that may indicate that it is running and wasting water; new parts may need to be added. If the toilet is loose I would recommend you pull the toilet, evaluate the floor, and replace the wax seal.
In older homes, if you have an old toilet I would recommend replacing them. Some of the old toilets would flush on five gallons of water where the new ones flush on about a gallon and a half. This is a real water saver.
To help extend the life of your water heater drain off about three gallons of water out of the faucet at the lower part of the heater. This helps remove sediment that builds upon the bottom of the tank. I would do this about every three months.
Everyone in the house should know where the main water shut-off is, in case you have to shut off the water to the whole house if there is an emergency. I recommend tagging the valve so it is easier to find especially for children.
Check all shut-off valves throughout the house for leaks. In older homes many times there are no shuts-offs under the sinks and other water lines. I would recommend installing them; that way you can turn off the water right at the source of the leak instead of having to run down to the basement to close the main shutoff.
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