Like heating, cooling and electrical, our home’s plumbing system is rarely given a second thought; that is until there’s a problem. If you regularly service your HVAC system, even if you just change your air filters, you’re taking some precautionary measure to keep your cooling and heating equipment functioning properly and running efficiently.
With that said, it’s important not to overlook the plumbing in your home. This complex system should be inspected at least once a year. Whether you call on the pros for every inspection, or know how to perform some basic tasks yourself, it’s always best to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to home maintenance.
Between your own skills and that of a trusted plumber, here’s what you should be doing to get your home ready for the fall and winter seasons in Central Virginia:
Inspect bathroom fixtures
Sinks, tubs, showers and toilets tend to be glossed over because more often than not they seem to work just fine. However, leaks, cracks, loose fittings and drainage issues can progress over time and go unnoticed until an expensive repair is required. Inspections of bathroom fixtures can identify mineral or corrosive deposits that may restrict water flow as well.
In the toilet, make sure the flapper is working properly and the toilet isn’t running longer than it should following a flush. Malfunctioning flappers may flush your commode, but you can waste several gallons of water per day if the rubber part is worn or broken, according to the EPA.
Insulate plumbing pipes
As summer winds down, most of us are looking forward to opening windows for crisp fall breezes, maybe even anticipating the holiday season and winter weather. If you have uninsulated pipes in unheated areas of your home, soon it will be time to start thinking about prepping pipes for colder temperatures. Garages, unfinished basements and attics, bathrooms and laundry rooms are just several places where you may have uninsulated pipes that are susceptible to freezing if not properly winterized.
Outdoor clean-up and maintenance
Keeping gutters and downspouts free of leaves and debris is key to clear drainage. Mid to late fall is usually when we start seeing first frosts of the season. Once temperatures are cold enough for freezing, it’s important that drains and pathways are clear so water can properly exit the home. While you’re outside, check HVAC equipment – remove leaves, small branches and other debris from around the unit. Make sure you have at least 2 feet of clearance between the unit and any shrubs.
Related: Importance of proper exterior drainage
Be mindful of food waste
Hosting game day, holiday gatherings, parties or BBQs? Many of the events during the fall and holiday season put excessive use on our kitchen plumbing – especially the garbage disposal. When you use the kitchen sink instead of the trash can, food waste begins to settle causing messy clogs and nasty odors. Take care of your garbage disposal with a few simple tips.
First, thoroughly empty dishes in the trash, and only use the sink for rinsing leftover food particles. After the disposal blades have stopped, run cold water for about 30 seconds. Doing so periodically keeps the blades clean and sharp. You can also make your own solution with a variety of household products like vinegar, baking soda and citrus to clear drains and combat odors.
When temperatures drop, it’s natural for your home to rely more on your water heater and heating system. Proper maintenance of your water heater is important throughout the year, but the onset of fall is when it’s most timely.
Bi-annual flushing removes sediment, buildup and minerals that can lead to corrosion and poor water quality. Testing the pressure release valve and the heating element will ensure proper water pressure and temperature. Consider knocking out water heater maintenance and heating system service at the same time.
Know your home, know your systems
Just like you perform regular cleaning, landscaping and exterior upkeep, it’s important to take proper care of primary systems so your home is efficient, comfortable and hassle-free all year long. We also recommend you familiarize yourself with your systems, like understanding how your unit sounds and operates when it’s performing properly, as well as knowing where your water shut off valves are located. Aside from seasonal precautions like those discussed, awareness is key to repair prevention.
For more helpful tips on keeping your home safe and comfortable as temperatures cool down, contact R.J. Tilley today!