Now that you've decided to run a general maintenance program on your home, spend some time triaging the trouble spots. For example, plumbing problems may cause the most destruction in both the short and the long term, so begin with making a plumbing maintenance checklist.
Taking A Larger View
Let's start by walking around your property, or better yet, take the overall view and cross the street to gain a fuller perspective of its location. If it lies on a gentle slope, your concerns about drainage will be alleviated. If there are thirsty willow trees as landscaping, your concerns may escalate. Take notes on your initial large view, and plunge into the question of which plumber to consult if a widespread plumbing problem presents itself. For example, if your home lies in a flood zone or is situated near a river or lake, then the local companies have firsthand experience with water issues. Their advice is invaluable and you need to note the premier plumbing company in your area.
Securing The Great Outdoors
Now that you've decided on a reliable plumber, zero in on the yard. You may have not thought about the infrastructure supporting your property, but you need to familiarize yourself with the location of both the water meter and the water shut-off valve for the entire home. Walk around the foundation, searching for cracks or signs of leakage. Critique each lawn, as sprinkling systems may spring a leak from ground upheaval or careless use of a lawnmower. Areas of burgeoning, uneven grass growth or swampy areas point to a sprinkling system problem underground. Move around to outdoor faucets and check for leaks; if the winters are freezing in your location, you need to wrap the faucets before cold weather starts for the utmost protection.
Eliminating Winter Woes
Speaking of winterizing outdoor faucets, the first step consists of disconnecting garden hoses for draining and storage. Next, inspect your faucet to see if it's frost-free. A good rule is that a frost-free knob is perpendicular to the house, and a knob that is at a 45-degree angle is not. Even a climate with mild winters and occasional freezing needs these simple safeguards to prevent split pipes and costly repairs. As you inspect the outdoor faucets, see to the caulking around the pipes. If it's weathered or missing, it needs replacing. Once you've secured the great outdoors, move on to what will affect you and your family the most, the indoor plumbing.
Hot Water And Adequate Pressure: Two Basic Requirements
Now comes checking for proper water pressure. If your home is two or more stories, you already realize that showers and proper toilet flushing upstairs are critical, so remove shower heads to inspect them for sediment buildup that will constrict the pipes' ability to provide adequate pressure. Each sink, tub, and drain needs checking for drainage, because slow drainage indicates a clog or vent problem, and gurgling points to a venting problem. Next, the amount of people living in the home determines the size of a water heater. A family of four likely needs a 40-gallon capacity, and if the heater is old, sediments may accumulate and require draining the tank.
Prevent Toilet Disasters
Moving along to more intimate plumbing maintenance, make sure that each toilet is firmly seated by gently rocking it. Check for water leakage after a test flush, and make certain that the toilet does not continue to run after flushing. Lift the tank cover to inspect for rusting parts, and look for mildew in the hidden areas behind the toilet that will betray a leak. Bathrooms most often have tile floors, so search for cracked tiles that will have leaked water through to the floor and stained the ceiling of the room below.
Laundry Room Lookouts
The laundry holds a common source of trouble that is also the most easily fixed: the washing machine drain hose. Curious children may tinker with the hose by lifting it out of the drainpipe, and the results can be catastrophic. Simply check its position periodically as you conduct a general inspection of the washer's hoses to make sure they are not brittle or leaking.
Because we associate the kitchen with sinks, cooking, and dish-washing, we need to concentrate maintenance here. Check the out of the way places such as under the sink, because any leaks will have discolored or warped the floor inside. All faucets should not leak, and corrosion causes pipes to leak, too. Signs of corrosion are green stains around copper and brass fittings, and orange or yellow stains on steel pipe. The dishwasher's connections need periodic checking due to the vibration and force of water during its operation. Garbage disposals, too, vibrate when working hard and can loosen or leak.
A Last Moment
You're nearly through. Close your eyes and listen for water drips or the sound of water running when you know every faucet is turned off. When all is clear to your satisfaction, finish your plumbing maintenance checklist with a satisfied smile. You've completed your first run through of a very important part of owning a home.