- Check your toilet base for signs of water damage, like rolled vinyl or stains. Straddle over your toilet and rock back and forth on each foot to see if the floor feels spongy. If so, it’s probably rotting or weakened.
- Check to see how fast the toilet flushes.
- Check for leaky or loose tiles by pressing on the walls where they come in contact with the bathtub. If the walls are soft, water may have created damage behind the tiles.
- Provide a trash bin in the bathroom so the toilet isn’t used as a garbage can. Never flush cotton swabs, cotton balls, hair, facial scrub pads, diapers, sanitary products or similar items down the toilet. These items will not easily dissolve and are responsible for most clogs.
- Turn on water in bathtub and in the kitchen sink. If there is a noticeable reduction in water volume, the piping in the house may need to be replaced because of calcium and mineral deposits restricting water flow.
- Sewer line backups are common this time of year due to summer rainwater entering sewer pipes via cracks. If you suspect that there may be a problem with your sewer line, call Clear Drain to come do a camera inspection of your lines. This will help you determine the best treatment option for proper drain cleaning or if a repair/replacement is required.
- Sewer lines can often become obstructed during the summer months as tree’s root systems are in growth mode, and may be drawn toward the sewer line as a source of water and nutrients. Have your sewer lines expected early in the summer to see if you are at any risk.
- You can often save on your energy bills by turning down the temperature on your water heater, since you will likely not be taking many hot showers anyway.
- Be careful what you put down your kitchen disposal after your cookout. Most are not equipped to handle cornhusks, celery, banana peels and other fibrous or “stringy” foods. Some other items to stay away from are fats or cooking oils because they form clots in the pipes. Run cold water at full pressure for 15 seconds before and after you put anything down the disposal to flush it through. Never put instant stuffing, potato mixes or similar “just-add-water” foods down the drain—they’ll create an instant clog when you add water.
- Monitor washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks, or leaks, and make sure the machine is at least 4’’ from the wall to prevent the hose from kinking. Turn valves on and off to test for leaks. Replace hoses after three years of use.
This year as you do your spring cleaning check your bathroom, kitchen, appliances, equipment and more common areas, both within and outside the home for any plumbing problems that could occur. Also check your drains, gutters and downspouts – which should be clear and free of debris to ensure proper operation. If you let the debris build up, gutters and drains can clog, causing water damage, leakage and mold growth – not something you want to deal with! All it takes is a quick check to make sure things are running properly to prevent major plumbing issues from occurring as snow thaws this spring. If you are unsure call Clear Drain and we can do preventative maintenance for you.
General Plumbing Tips
- Test your sump pump by pouring some water into your sump pit and making sure the pump turns on drains the water and shuts back off quickly.
- Whenever you have drains that are rarely used such as floor drains or in a guest bathroom, run some water so the P-traps fill up to prevent odors from rising up in your home. The P-trap is the curved bend at the bottom of your drain.
- Find out if you have any slow leaks in your home. To do this, check your water meter at night before you go to bed. Check it again when you wake up before you use any water. If the reading has changed, you may have a leak – call a plumber for a more thorough inspection.
- The most important thing you can do to keep your plumbing system safe this spring is to make sure your sump pump is primed and ready for some hard work. If you have not seen to your sump pump (do not worry – you probably are not the only one), test it by pouring a few buckets of water into the sump pit. The pump should kick on in a few seconds, allow the flow of water and then turn itself off automatically. If it does not do it, call your local plumber and have the sump pump seen firsthand – before it completely burns out.
Kitchen and Bathroom Plumbing Tips
- If you have any leaky faucets, now might be a good time to fix them. You can try to do this yourself, or you can call Clear Drain.
- While you’re checking your faucets for leaks, check your toilet, too. Put a few drops of food coloring in the top of the toilet tank and wait for about a half hour. When you come back, check the toilet bowl to see if any of the color got in from the tank. If the water looks colored, call a plumber – those kinds of leaks can add up big time.
- Check to be sure all your drains, particularly shower drains, have strainers in them that will catch hair, soap and debris to prevent clogs.
- Clean any mineral deposits off your shower heads by unscrewing them and soaking them overnight in a Ziploc bag full of white vinegar. When you’re done soaking them, scrub any residue with an old toothbrush to get them totally clean.
Appliance Plumbing Tips
- Check the temperature on your water heater to make sure it is at around 120 degrees. This will prevent scalding in case of accidental leaks and help you save energy.
- Flush your water heater by slowly draining several gallons from it. There is a valve on the bottom of your water heater to which you can attach a hose to assist in the removal of 5-10 gallons. This will remove any corrosion causing sediment that could reduce heating efficiency and shorten the life of the heater.
Outdoor Plumbing Tips
- Get a ladder and some work gloves and clean out the yard drains, gutters and downspouts.
- Check any outdoor faucets and hose bibs to make sure water flows freely and shows no signs of leakage. If you see any outdoor faucets dripping, or if there is a leak inside your house when you turn the hose on, you may have a pipe that froze during the winter and cracked.
- Check out the faucet for leaks – this is especially common in colder climates where hoses have been left on the hose bib for the winter. If the water supply pipe has frozen the once frozen pipe can be expanded and may have cracked. This pipe will leak and should be replaced as soon as possible by your local plumber, before water damage can occur.
Have you ever tried the pop can in the freezer experiment? If you have ever tried this experiment you will know that the pop will freeze and explode. Well, just like the pop, if the water in your pipes freeze it will expand and your pipes will burst causing thousands of dollars of damage and headache. Here are a few tips that Clear Drain has put together to help you prepare your home for the freezing temperatures of Southern Alberta, and what to do in cause of a plumbing emergency.
- Install pipes in an insulated and heated place. Avoid attics and garages whenever possible.
- Bury pipes lower in the ground, below the frost line
- Take the time and money now to insulated any exposed pipes in your home especially in the attic. Insulation benefits not only your heating system, but also your plumbing! Insulation keeps pipes from freezing, which can lead to long-term problems.
- Circulating warm air helps keep pipes in the walls from freezing. Keep your house temperature above 13 degrees to prevent pipes from freezing and open cabinet doors under sinks and faucets and near exterior walls to help circulate warm air and keep pipes warmer.
- If you currently notice slower water flow and expect frozen pipes, you should call Clear Drain immediately. Often time’s issues like this can be resolved before any damage occurs.
- When it’s really cold outside, let water drip from your faucets overnight. Because moving water can’t freeze, sometimes all it takes is
a little running water to keep your pipes in good shape. If your pipes DO freeze, call Clear Drain—we know what to do to avoid more serious complications like burst pipes or water damage.
- If your faucets don’t run water it is a good indicator that your pipes may be frozen. If this happens, keep your faucet turned on and then call us.
- Don’t use electrical appliances near areas of standing water. You’ll get electrocuted!
- Don’t try to thaw the pipe yourself. This could be a fire or electrical hazard. You’re safety is our utmost concern, so call us before you try to fix this plumbing problem yourself.
- A frozen pipe can lead to a burst pipe. If your pipe has already burst, shut off your home’s main water valve. This will help prevent water damage.
- Locate your main water valve and label it, checking occasionally that it is working properly. Everyone in the home should know where your main valve is located in the event of an emergency.
- Whilst you are looking find where other service valves are located. Label them and check from time to time that they are working correctly.
- Find the location of any drain valves on the system too. These can be used in an emergency to empty your water and central heating systems (once the source of heat has been put out).
- Inspect your cold water storage cistern (tank) regularly and, if it is metal, make sure it is not corroding.
- Check your flexible hosepipes to appliances at regular intervals.
- When it snows make sure to check that your drainage system is not blocked. If it is you could have problems with your sump pump line which could cause indoor flooding. The best thing to do when it snows is clear the area around the drain with a shovel before the snow starts melting. Don’t risk it! Fix it! Call Clear Drain if you think there is cause for concern.
Here are a few simple plumbing preparations to do during the fall to winterize your home and help prevent disaster and costly expenses.
This simple checklist is for homeowners. If you are a snowbird, leaving your home vacant for long periods of time, you will need to take further precautions. Seek professional help for winterizing such properties. Clear Drain can help will any plumbing tips and concerns you have.
- Make sure garden hoses are disconnected from hose bibs on the outside of your house. Then either blow them out or drain them with gravity and store inside for the winter. An outside shed is nice, but the plastic and rubber will still freeze and thaw numerous times and most likely crack. A garage that doesn’t get below freezing should be fine. If left connected, water in the hoses can freeze and expand causing faucets and connecting pipes inside your home to freeze and break.
- It would be very wise to inspect and clean your sump pump and the pit in which it’s situated. When your sump pump is exposed to extreme cold, it can freeze, which in turn prevents the pump from operating. Without a properly working sump pump, water can enter your basement and can easily cause flooding, especially when precipitation is high.
- If your home is equipped with interior shut-off valves leading to outside faucets, close them and open bleeder valves to drain water from outside lines.
- Take a walk through your basement, and insulate the pipes you can see. Especially the ones near the outside walls. If your pipes run through garages or crawl spaces that are unheated make sure to apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes to prevent freezing. If you are lucky enough to know which pipes normally freeze, you can use heat tape to warm that pipe throughout the winter.
- Repair any outside faucets that are dripping or leaking because when water freezes it causes pressure on your pipes. If there are any tiny cracks in your pipes this pressure will cause your pipes to burst.
- Because your water heater gets a work out during the winter it is important to make sure it is in proper working order. This is especially necessary if you happen to live in an area that uses hard water. When your hot water heater isn’t drained enough, extra amounts of sediments could build up in the tank, and rust could begin to develop and reduce heating efficiency. So every fall you should drain several gallons of water from the faucet near the bottom of the tank. Connect a hose to the faucet and direct water into a nearby drain. Check your water heater manufacturer‘s website for specific instructions concerning your make and model. Note also consumer reports show that the average tank lasts between 10-12 years. So if your tank is up in that age or you’re unsure of the age give us a call and our happy go lucky plumbing technicians will come to the rescue. Whether your tank needs serving or replacing our plumbing experts will be able to determine the best solution to help prevent problems in the future.
- Double check the temperature on your water heater’s thermostat. For the best performance make sure it is set to 120°F.
- Clear leaves and dirt from gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage for when those southern Alberta Chinooks thaw ice and snow.
- It is important that everyone in your home know how to shut off the main water valve as well as the valves under toilets and sinks. Everyone that is old enough to be in the house alone should know how to turn off the water. Even a ½” blow pipe can gush upwards of 10 gallons per minute if you have high pressure in your house. Having your 10 year old take care of this 15 minutes before he/she can get a neighbor to help can save you thousands of dollars.
With a programmable thermostat, you can program winter temperature at 65º at night, and then back to 72º during the day.
Inside your home, weather stripping around moving parts of windows and doors can help seal off potential areas of leakage.
New showerheads use a maximum of 2.5 gallons per minute, which saves you water.
Insulating pipes that run through unheated space will result in a significant savings in your energy bill and in some cases save you from splitting pipes due to freezing.
You usually can use half the amount of laundry detergent and dryer sheets recommended prolonging the life of your washer and dryer.
Don’t wash away your money with the dishes. Always run your dishwasher full because it uses the same amount of water for a half a load as it does for a full.