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Plumbing Maintenance for Summer

Summer is finally right around the corner. Your home’s plumbing is likely not topping the list of things you want to be thinking about right now. But performing preventive maintenance before those summer days come can give you peace of mind all season long. 1. Clear your home’s drains of residue Drains can get gunky and build up residue over time due to daily hand-washing, showering, and other tasks. While you’re performing your pre-summer maintenance tasks, it’s important to clean the drains to avoid unexpected clogs.

2. Clean the gutters ahead of summer rainstorms Many plumbers consider gutters part of your plumbing system because they carry water away from your house. If gutters are overtopped with water, it can damage the home’s foundation and walls of the basement, creating cracks that may grow over time. Using a handheld garden tool such as a trowel can be useful while cleaning gutters and can help scrape up sludge from the bottom of the gutter. Once the gutter is clear, use a hose to wash it completely clean and ensure the water is flowing freely through the downspout. 3. Test your toilets for leaks A likely source for leaks in plumbing is a faulty flapper, a small piece of rubber that acts as a stopper, separating the tank from the bowl. When the toilet is flushed, the flapper lifts, allowing water to flow into the bowl below and flush away the waste. But over time, the rubber can degrade, wear out, and develop cracks. A good way to test for a leaking flapper is to add a few drops of food coloring to the top of the tank where the flapper and flush valve are. Check to see if the water inside the bowl is turning the color of the food coloring you added. If you see color, then you have a leaking/passing flapper. They can be purchased at a local hardware store or home center.

4. Flush the water heater to remove built-up sediment This is one of those annual tasks that should be tackled with the rest of your spring-cleaning. Throughout the year, calcium and magnesium that can accumulate in your water heater solidify, and potentially mix with dirt and other inclusions, becoming sediment that accumulates at the bottom of your tank. The sediment could increase the chances of a leak coming out of the bottom of the tank and prevent your water heater from heating as effectively. Flushing your water heater is a generally simple task. All you will need is a hose that can connect tightly to the flushing valve on the side of your tank and a large bucket. First shut off the gas or electrical connection to your tank and connect the hose to the drain valve. Make sure the other end of the hose is in a large bucket or storm drain, open the drain valve, and let the water flow out. At the same time, open your temperature and pressure-relief valve. If the bucket has sediment crystals in the bottom, then continue letting the water drain through. When new crystals stop appearing in the bottom, close the drain valve and let the tank refill. Then restart your pilot light or turn your electrical connection back on, and your tank should heat up again.

5. Inspect and maintain your septic tank If your house runs on a septic system, it’s a good idea to make sure your septic tank is ready to handle the extra use that occurs during the summer. This means keeping your system well-maintained and practicing good septic hygiene. Most septic systems need to be checked by an inspector at least every 2 to 3 years.

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