Owning a home is incredibly rewarding, but it comes with a lot of responsibilities—including taking care of your pipes. We know pipe maintenance probably isn’t at the top of your to-do list, but ignoring your pipes can lead to a range of plumbing issues—including a flooded home. To help ensure that doesn’t happen, we researched the top threats to your pipes and put together this list of maintenance tips.
Here’s our advice on how to avoid everyday pipe problems.
6 common pipe problems and how to fix them
We recommend hiring a plumber to inspect your home’s plumbing every year. They’ll look for leaky pipes and corrosion, which may cause your pipes to leak. Your plumber can also evaluate whether the water lines supplying appliances—like your hot water heater and washing machine—need replacing. High water pressure is a common cause of leaky pipes, so ask your plumber to check your home’s water pressure and adjust it as necessary.
You can also install a water leak sensor in out-of-sight areas (like under sinks or near the water heater) to learn of a leak as soon as possible.
Debris like hair, dirt, and small toys can obstruct your pipes and lead to clogged or slow drains. Drain cleaner may help remove some obstructions, but using it regularly could damage your pipes. Placing a drain filter in all of your home’s sinks and tubs is an easy and inexpensive way to avoid this problem. If you continue to experience clogged or slow drains, snake it with a drain auger or call your plumber.
3. Backed-up garbage disposal
A garbage disposal isn’t a trash can, but many homeowners treat it like one. To avoid the unpleasant experience of a backed-up disposal, feed garbage into it slowly, while running cold water. It’s also important to be careful about what goes in the disposal. Starchy foods, grease, and eggshells could clog your pipes and result in a backed-up disposal—so always throw these in the compost or trash can.
Frozen pipes are more than an inconvenience—they can burst and cause thousands of dollars in damage. Before cold weather sets in, protect your pipes against freezing by covering ones that could be exposed to freezing temperatures with insulation sleeves or insulation wrapping.
Keep cabinet doors open in extremely cold weather so warm air circulates around pipes. You’ll also want to let a faucet drip and make sure your home’s temperature doesn’t dip below 55° F. Even homeowners in mild climates need to be vigilant about preparing their pipes for cold weather, as freezes can happen anywhere.
Sewer backup is a nightmare to deal with. Fortunately, preventative maintenance can help you avoid this problem. If you have a septic tank, get it emptied on schedule. How often you need it pumped depends on several factors, including how many people live in your home and the size of the tank. According to the EPA, most household septic tanks are pumped every three to five years.1 If your home’s main sewage pipe connects to a municipal line, have it cleaned at least every few years.
6. Threat: bursting irrigation system
The pipes inside your home aren’t the only ones that need maintenance. Lawn sprinkler systems, also known as irrigation systems, also require TLC. Once you stop using your irrigation system for the season, clear the lines of water and turn the system off. If you don’t do this, water could freeze in the piping and eventually burst—leaving you with astronomical water and repair bills. Also, if water from the pipes leaks into your home’s foundation and freezes, it can cause cracks and lead to even more problems.