Although it’s not something you think about regularly, periodic care and maintenance of your water and sewer pipes can help prevent leaks and avoid costly repairs. Here’s five tips to prolong the life of your pipes:
1. Don’t use chemical drain clearing products
One of the most common plumbing problems is clogged drains and many people use products that contain chemicals to clear them – don’t! These products can erode your drain pipes and sometimes do more harm than good. Repeated use can eventually lead to leaks and costly repairs. Instead, hire a plumber to snake the drain and completely remove the clog. Or, for you do-it-yourselfers, you can purchase a snake of your own for around $20 and clean the drain yourself.
2. Prevent future clogs
A clogged drain is not only a nuisance, but it can also shorten the lifespan of your pipes. When water backs up, it puts added pressure and stress on the pipes. The best way to prevent clogs is to be aware of what goes down your drain and avoid common problem causers.
For example, keep food scraps from going down your kitchen drain. Even if you have a disposal, you should scrape food into the trash before washing your dishes. Never pour liquid grease down your drain. Instead, use a sealable container and dispose in your trash after it cools.
Avoid hair from getting into your bathroom drains by installing screens over the drains in your tub and shower, and remove what hair you can every few weeks to prevent any buildups.
3. Lower the water pressure
We all like high water pressure when taking a shower, but the pressure puts unnecessary stress on your pipes and can increase the likelihood of a leak, not to mention reducing the lifespan of your pipes. You can measure your water pressure by purchasing a hose bib gauge, attaching it to an outside spigot and opening the line. A normal pressure range is between 40-85 psi. Anything above that range, you should consider having a plumber install a pressure reducer.
4. Use a water softener
Hard water, which contains a high mineral count, can shorten the life of your plumbing system by creating buildup inside the pipes that restricts water flow and increases pressure. Water softeners use sodium to counteract the minerals in your water and are the only way to effectively deal with hard water.
5. Sewer line and septic tank maintenance
If you have municipal sewers, it’s recommended to have a plumber snake your main sewage cleanout every few years to remove tree roots that can lead to sewage backups. For septic systems, the recommendation is to have the tank pumped every three to five years.