Avoid Dixon Plumbing Disasters with These 4 Tips for Summer Plumbing Maintenance

blog-icon-plumbingWe’ve had a pretty busy month with plumbing  last week alone saw a burst pipe repair, two pool pump installations, and a client with a leaking water main. Some of these things are unavoidable, but we know that many of our clients would prefer to stop plumbing disasters from occurring in the first place. To help, we’ve put together a list of a few of our favorite tips to prevent some of the more common plumbing issues that seem to crop up in our area in the summertime.

#1 Check the Washing Machine Drain Hose

It’s hard to imagine how much dirt and other stuff comes from a load of clothes and goes down the drain. That goes double for hair, which is a major source of clogs and other drain stoppages in sinks, washers, and showers. And bits of fabric and thread often slough off into the drain as well. Add it all together and you have a recipe for drain disaster.

Earlier in May, we encountered a slightly different problem with a washing machine drain hose: the old plastic had cracked in several places and was dripping onto the floor with every load of laundry. These hoses are often as old as the washer itself, and depending on the climate (and your home) they can crack and peel just like the hoses in your car’s engine — and with the same leaky, expensive result if left unchecked.

You can ream out the drain hose to remove clogs, and also have a plumber inspect the drain that the hose feeds into to ensure the clog isn’t further down the line. But if your hose is cracking, you’ll have to replace it, which can actually be a cheap and easy fix. Drain hoses can be found online for less than 20 dollars, and are usually fairly easy to install yourself. Alternatively, you can have a plumber do the work for you, and that’s usually pretty cheap as well.

#2: Watch for Outdoor Plumbing Complications

‘Tis the season for pools and sprinklers…and slip’n’slides, hoses, and other outdoor plumbing appliances. These plumbing apertures usually take a bit more abuse from the weather and other elements than those inside your house, and that’s especially true as they start being used more often. April saw us replacing an old hose bib in Dixon that was too corroded to work efficiently, and we’ve looked at several pool pumps already. Don’t get taken by surprise this summer — now is a great time to inspect your outdoor plumbing and see what needs attention.

It’s pretty easy to see if hose bibs are working right, and if your pool pump is either running smoothly or it’s not. Much harder to spot are underground leaks, and those have been cropping up a lot this spring — and we expect that trend to continue. Soft spots and muddy areas can be signs of water leaking under the yard. Another thing to check is the condition of the plumbing that you can see; we replaced a water main last week in Rancho and it was no surprise that the visible above-ground plumbing was in bad shape. As above, so below!

#3: Look to Your Bill for Water Usage Clues

“How do I lower my water bill?” is probably the third most common question we get asked, right after “Why is my [insert appliance name] making a [insert undesirable sound] noise?”  and “Do I really</i> need to change my filters every 3-6 months?” Lowering the water bill is a great goal to have and the bill itself can act as a roadmap to meet your goal.

High water bills can mean several things. First, they can mean you’re using a lot of water. That’s obvious, of course. What’s less obvious is that they might be saying you’re not using your water efficiently. Check out this water usage calculator—it will tell you how much water your home should be using every month. Then take a look at the bill. If your bill is showing a significantly higher rate of use than the calculator says you should be using, then there are probably some inefficiencies in equipment and usage. You can reduce usage in a few ways—upgrade to rebateable water-saving devices, cut back on shower times and lawn water, and try to do laundry less often.

If your bill increases drastically from month to month, something else is going on. The client in Rancho whose water main was leaking noticed that his water bill tripled in a month, but he hadn’t been using any more water than usual. He knew it must have been losing water somewhere, and that’s when he called in the pros to help.

#4: Get Your Plumbing Inspected This Month

The best tip we can offer we saved for last: get a pro to take a look at your plumbing! Most people wait to call the plumber until after something bad happens, and then they spend hundreds of dollars to fix it. An inspection and tune-up are often less than a hundred dollars, and it can prevent these sorts of plumbing disasters from occurring in the first place. It doesn’t take a BA in Accounting to see the money sense that makes.

A plumber will also be a great resource when it comes to answering questions and helping you reduce water usage. If you’re serious about lowering your regular bill, go with a plumber who does rebate work and talk to them about water-saving appliances and home upgrades that will make a big difference in how your home uses water. And of course, any time you have plumbing needs, call the plumbers you trust — the “No Surprise Guys!”