According to the groundhog, we have another six weeks of winter to enjoy before we can get out and start tackling all of our spring house projects. Just because we are trapped indoors does not mean we should not be thinking about, and taking care of, our homes. In fact, now is the perfect time of year to perform some basic maintenance on a component of your home that you can’t live without but that also has the potential to cause great damage. I am referring to your plumbing.
Plumbing emergencies: overflowing toilets, broken supply lines, blocked or leaking drains, can result in thousands of dollars of unnecessary damages, but the good news is there are a few basic tasks that the average homeowner can do to mitigate the risk of a catastrophe. The following plumbing tuneup list requires no special tools or expertise and can be completed in under an hour:
- Shut off valves – every source of water in your home (with the possible exception of bathtubs/showers) should have a working shut off valve that allows you to turn off the water at the fixture rather than at the main shut off in the basement. Toilet shut offs are located near the floor on the left side of the toilet tank, and faucet shut offs are usually found under the sink or vanity that houses the faucet. Once you locate your valves, do the following:
- Remove obstructions that would prevent you from reaching them in an emergency (under the kitchen sink is usually the worst offender!)
- Operate the valves to make sure they are easy to turn and that they shut off the water completely. Over time valves can freeze up or fail from lack of use
- Once you turn the water back on, make sure water does not leak from the valve. If it leaks from around the handle then you need to tighten the packing nut directly below the handle until the drip stops (see picture).
- Supply lines – The tube that connects the shut off valve to the fixture is a supply line and can be made of various materials (plastic, copper, braided steel). While you are working on your shut off valves, take a minute to inspect your supply lines for any signs of damage such as bulging or cracking where the line attaches at either end. If you find that you have the grey plastic supply lines, I suggest replacing them with braided steel which is less prone to failure (I have a friend who suffered through $50,000 in water damage and months of wrangling with insurance companies as a result of a burst plastic supply line).
- Drains – Since you are already under your sink, you might as well check the drains as well. To do this, close the stopper on the sink and fill it up. Once full, open the stopper and do two things: 1) watch to see if the sink drains quickly; and 2) check the drain trap under the sink for signs of leaking. You can also try to hand-tighten the plastic or metal nut on the drain trap to make sure it has not come loose. Even a very slight leak, if it goes undiscovered for a long time, can ultimately lead to water damage in the ceiling below and even a mold issue.
If you follow this very simple program on a regular basis, you can save yourself a huge headache, not to mention expense, down the road. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, or don’t feel comfortable handling any needed repairs you identify during your inspection, just give Hassle Free a call as these tasks comprise an important part of our monthly maintenance checklist.
To get a custom quote on a monthly maintenance program for your home, complete and submit our QuickQuote Calculator. For more information, or to set up an appointment, please call 301-294-9444.
Hassle Free Home Services serves the entire Washington DC Metro Area, Suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia Area including Northwest Washington DC, Chevy Chase DC, Potomac MD, North Potomac MD, Silver Spring MD, Rockville MD, Bethesda MD, Olney MD, Mclean VA and more.