Year-round plumbing maintenance helps protect your family and prevent costly damages to your home. Here we’ve put together some general summer plumbing tips to help you keep your household plumbing in top shape—both inside and outside.
Outdoor Summer Plumbing Tips
With summertime lawn care and gardening, household water usage is especially high. Common plumbing problems involve sprinklers, hose bibs, and tree roots. Help prevent such problems by following these outdoor summer plumbing tips:
Regularly clean and maintain yard sprinklers, fountains, and swimming pools.
Check for and repair leaky hose bibs
Keep your gutters clean and clear of debris—scooping out the gutters just once a year may not be enough, especially if there are a lot of trees around your house.
Be careful not to plant trees near underground lateral sewage lines—tree roots can cause cracks and blockages in the pipes and may lead to leaks or water backup.
Indoor Summer Plumbing Tips
In the summertime, homeowners may encounter problems with moisture, leaks, and clogs. Help prevent common indoor plumbing issues by following these tips:
Check your basement for water seepage during and after heavy rains, and take the proper measures to waterproof your basement.
Check basement floor drains and sewer lines for blockages that may cause water backup.
Check for and fix household leaks.
Install a whole house water leak detection system to prevent future leaks and water damage.
Common products that will be sure to clog your toilet include: feminine products, flushable wipes, baby diapers, pills, and dental floss
Avoid putting banana peels, corn husks, fats, and cooking oils down the garbage disposal (or upgrade to heavy-duty garbage disposal) to prevent clogs
Have a Safe and Happy Summer from all of us at C Les Plumbing
Unlike a typical faucet, the working parts of a frost-free sillcock— valve, seat, and washer—are located up to 18 in. inside the wall instead of right at the faucet. When the sillcock is properly installed, with a slight downward pitch, water drains from the pipe every time you turn off the knob at the faucet.
Turn off outdoor faucets at their shutoff valves. Open the faucet and then open the bleeder cap on the shutoff valve to drain any water out of the pipe. If you don’t drain the pipe, it can still freeze and crack. Leave the bleeder cap open with a bucket underneath to catch any drips. If the dripping continues, your shutoff valve needs to be replaced.
Insulated covers slow the heat loss from a pipe as it travels through the wall out into the cold. They provide some protection for very little cost (about $6 at home centers or Amazon).
A water-filled hose left out in cold weather will freeze. If the hose is still connected to the faucet, ice can back up into the pipe inside your house, causing the pipe to crack. Disconnect all hoses from their faucets, drain them and store them for the winter.
If you’re leaving town for a few days or more, turn the water off at the main shutoff. That way, if frozen pipes do crack, you’ll have far less damage. Shut off your automatic icemaker so it doesn’t continually try to make ice, burning out the motor. Even if the ice bin is full, the ice will evaporate and the icemaker will try to make more.
A Wi-Fi thermostat lets you control and monitor your home’s temperature using your smartphone. If the temperature in your house drops, you’ll get an email or text alert. Other types of alert systems are also available. Some send alerts to your cell phone via a phone jack in your house. Others send an alert to a landline or cell phone. Wi-Fi thermostats are available at home centers or Amazon for about $55 and up
The rim joist is a likely area for cold air intrusion. Seal cracks or holes using expandable foam and then insulate between the floor joists. Be sure that you don’t insulate a pipe from the heat in the rest of the house. Also, inspect around holes where cables, wires or pipes pass through an exterior wall. Insulate where you can, and seal drafts with caulk or expandable foam. After insulating, be sure you have combustion air for the furnace coming in through a makeup air pipe.
A trickling faucet acts as a relief valve for the pressure that builds up if frozen pipes do occur. That pressure relief can prevent frozen pipes from cracking. A slow trickle is all you need. It’ll bump up your next water bill a bit, but compared with major home repairs, that’s an easy price to pay. Don’t leave a faucet running if the drain is on an exterior wall, though; the drain can freeze, causing the sink to overflow.
Being behind closed doors, kitchen plumbing frozen pipes are vulnerable, as the heat from the rest of the house can’t reach them. Open the cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate into the cabinets. A fan or portable heater pointed inside the cabinet also helps circulate warm air.
The temperature and pressure relief valve is designed to release water if there's too much pressure inside the tank, or if the water gets too hot. The t/p valve is equipped with a discharge tube that runs from the valve to the floor. The tube is in place to make sure that any water that leaks from the valve is safely directed downwards, towards the floor, rather than outwards where it could be harmful.
If you notice a puddle of water at the bottom of your hot water tank, check the inside of the discharge tube for any moisture. If you find water, the problem is most likely the temperature and pressure relief valve.
The valve is either faulty or there is too much pressure in the tank. This problem is usually fixable by either replacing the valve or calling a plumber to deal with the internal pressure problem.
Every water heater has a drain valve at the bottom of the tank. The drain valve is used to drain the tank. It should be drained on a regular basis to remove the sediment that collects within the internal tank. If the sediment isn't drained, it will eventually cause damage to the inside of the tank.
If you notice water pooling around the bottom of your tank you may have a drain valve leak. There are 2 causes to a drain valve leak:
A faulty drain valve will need to be replaced, or you may be able to use a brass garden hose cap to stop the leak until you're able to swap it out with a new one.
If you notice water seeping out of the edges of the valve, in most cases the valve isn't water tight and it's simply leaking. Replacing the drain valve will usually solve the problem.
Most leaks come from the hot water tank itself. If the tank is leaking, there is an internal problem, and likely one of the components has sprung a leak, causing water to slowly leak out and pool at the bottom of the tank.
Usually, the cause of this is sediment build-up inside the tank. If this sediment is left long enough it will begin to crack and rust the steel tank, eventually leading to a leak.
A leak from the tank itself almost always means the water heater will need to be replaced. In this scenario, you can either contact a professional plumber to investigate further, or you can simply purchase a new water heater.
Now that you've located the leak, the next step is to turn off the water and power to the water heater, this will help prevent further water damage.
Refer to your emergency shutdown procedure sticker located on your water heater. If your water heater does not have this sticker, follow these steps:
Depending on where your leak was, and your comfort level, you may choose to do the repairs yourself, or contact a plumber to make the repairs for you.
If the leak was originating from the temperature/pressure valve, or the drain valve, it's highly likely that your water heater can be repaired.
However, if you find that your internal tank is leaking, you'll most likely be buying a new water heater