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Seasonal Plumbing Tips

There’s a misconception with many homeowners that fall plumbing maintenance only benefits homes that experience harsh winters. But that’s not the case for most U.S. homes. Even if your fall and winter seasons are mild (like Houston), it’s always good practice to do some basic maintenance on your plumbing system after the summer. Water usage spikes in the warmer months, especially for homes that have large lawns and gardens to water.

This can put pressure on plumbing systems and sometimes cause leaks and loose components. A complete plumbing maintenance from a professional might be worth considering if you own an older home and haven’t had an inspection in the last decade. However, performing a basic overview on your own should be sufficient – and could help you catch any minor problems before they become serious repair issues.

Here are some DIY maintenance tips from the professional plumbers at Universal:

Outside Leaks

Check all of your outdoor fixtures to ensure that they are not dripping or leaking. Leaks can raise your utility bills considerably and cause even more damage to the fixture and surrounding area. Either tend to the leak yourself or have a plumbing professional fix it. Do not neglect a persistent leak.

Clean Roof Gutters

Traditionally, Houston receives the second largest amount of precipitation in October. So it’s important that your roof gutters are checked and cleaned to ensure the runoff can be efficiently drained from the roof. A backed-up gutter and cause pools of water to form, which can damage your roof. Clean out all of the leaves and debris collected throughout the summer and then use a hose to make sure all the sediment is washed away.

Inside Leaks

Check all of the exposed plumbing in your home including the pipes underneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks and any piping in the basement or storage areas. Be mindful of wet areas located near the plumbing including wet or discolored patches on walls that might indicate leaks. Mold on or around pipes will also indicate a leak or a loose fixture, so use a flashlight when investigating the plumbing in dark areas.

Check Garbage Disposal

Before the start of fall party season begins, make sure that the garbage disposal is running properly. If it has stopped working or is jammed, the disposal is a fairly simple machine and can usually be fixed without calling a plumber. I fit has stopped working, find the rest button (usually on the underside of housing). If it is jammed, more than likely a bone or other piece of food is lodged in the shredder. Use a flashlight and take out any debris, but make sure that you unplug or turn off the unit before attempting to clean it.

How to Fix a Garbage Disposal

Flush Water Heater

During the winter, a water heater works harder in a typical home. Flushing it out will remove the sediment buildup that causes corrosion and can reduce the lifespan of the unit. You can drain the tank of a gas or electric water heater by connecting a hose to the faucet located near the bottom. You can extend the life of your unit by cleaning it out every couple of years.

How to Drain a Water Heater

Insulate Water Heater Pipes

Even without freezing temperatures, the colder weather in winter can affect the efficiency of your water heater. Insulated pipes can help reduce heat loss and even raise the water temperature 2 – 4 degrees. You can find a variety of pipe insulation options at your local home improvement store. Gas and electric water heaters require different kinds of insulation, so make sure that you research the specifics before you begin.

How to Insulate Water Heater Pipes

Just like annual maintenance on your HVAC system, your plumbing needs to be evaluated every year to ensure that it is working properly. But unlike your central air, a DIY maintenance check is fine as long as a professional is consulted every 8 years or so for a comprehensive evaluation. When you need assistance with your plumbing, whether it’s a basic leak or a comprehensive pipe replacement, call Universal today at (713) 364-0226.