Plumbing systems consist of complex network of pipes and drains that ensure you have access to clean water at all times and that waste is properly removed from your home. For that reason, you want to keep a close eye on your plumbing system to ensure you catch any problems early so they don’t get out of hand and lead to unnecessarily expensive repairs. Here are some quick tips for getting more out of your plumbing.
Saving Water, Energy & Money
Hot water in particular costs a lot of money and can be a major drain on your wallet if you don’t keep a close eye on energy costs associated with your water heater. To minimize the cost of hot water, reduce the temperature of your hot water heater from the standard 140 degrees F to 120 degrees F. This is hot enough for everything you use and the cost will be significantly lower than if you heated it continuously to the higher temperature.
Upgrading your appliances can also save you a lot of money. Modern washing machines with Energy Star labels save as much as 60% in water consumption over older units, while dishwashers today use much less water and can heat it internally, reducing the demand on your water heater.
Don’t Use Chemicals on Clogs
A slow or clogged drain is a nuisance, but using chemical drain cleaners can cost you more money over time. Drain cleaners are incredibly caustic and can eat through the lining of your pipes and eventually break them down. Repeated use of drain cleaners will ultimately lead to cracks and leaks in your drain pipes.
Even common household chemicals like bleach and ammonia can be corrosive to pipes if used excessively. Look for natural alternatives with a citrus base. Disinfectants may be needed at times, but try to get the least corrosive ones you can find to minimize damage to your plumbing.
There are a variety of noises you might hear coming from your pipes. Depending on the type of noise you hear and the actual cause, the solutions vary. Banging, for instance, is usually due to looseness in the pipe connections. As water moves through the pipes, they move and bang against the brackets and joints that hold them in place. Sometimes it just requires adding another bracket to silence this noise.
Squeaking is usually due to expanding hot water pipes. Hot water expands the pipes and the metal rubs up against those same brackets, creating the squeaky noises. Hammering or clanging noises are usually due to air chambers being filled with water. The easiest way to fix this is to turn off your main water valve and drain your pipes by running your fixtures. Then, turn it back on and let the water run. This will make sure the air cushion remains as the chambers refill.
Water Meter Issues
On average, your water meter should go up at a steady pace every day. You are unlikely to see significant swings in the amount of water you use unless you have guests or you go on vacation. When you notice a sharp increase in your water meter reading for no particular reason, you may have a leak.
Keep a close eye on your water meter to make sure you any leaks before they get out of hand. Catching a leak early enough can minimize damage and make it much easier and less expensive to fix.