If you want to avoid the expense associated with a major leak or broken pipe, there are some pipe maintenance tasks that you as the homeowner need to be on top of. If you're not a fan of DIY projects and not much of a home handyman, you may get nervous at the thought of attempting any kind of home maintenance project yourself. But don't worry! For the most part, your plumbing system is designed to work without much help. All that you have to do is protect your pipes, know how to recognize the signs of a problem before it becomes an emergency, and understand how to temporarily fix a leak until you can get a plumber to your house. You can do these things even if you don't know a U-bend from a utility pump. Take a look at some leak prevention tips that are easy enough for anyone to handle.
Insulate Your Pipes
When the temperatures outside drop too low, you're at risk of frozen pipes, and frozen pipes can be more than just a minor hassle. Water expands when it freezes, and when that happens, it can cause the pipes to crack and burst, leading to a water disaster inside of your house. Luckily, this is simple to prevent – all that you have to do is insulate your pipes.
Luckily, this is an easy task, and it doesn't require any tools more complicated than a knife and some duct tape. Start by using water and dish soap to clean any dust, dirt, or grime off of the pipes. This will allow the insulation to make a more effective seal so that it can protect your pipes properly.
There are three inexpensive and easy options when it comes to pipe insulation. You can use spiral wrap, which is a reflective material that comes in a roll, like tape. You simply wrap the insulation around the pipe, make sure the edges overlap by a ½ inch, and secure it with duct tape. Fiberglass insulation is another choice – this will need to be cut to fit, and you'll need to protect your eyes, mouth and nose while working with it to avoid inhaling fiberglass dust. Possibly the easiest insulation method is using foam pipe covers. They come shaped to fit around most pipes, with a slit pre-cut for easy application. Just slide the foam cover over the pipe, cut off any excess, and secure it with duct tape.
Do Visual Checks
You don't have to know anything about plumbing to recognize the signs that something is wrong, so don't ignore the importance of taking a close look at your exposed pipes and water fixtures on a regular basis just because you're not great with tools. Catching the signs of a leak early lets you contact a plumber before the problem grows and you end up having to pay for water restoration services as well.
Rust is a good sign that you need to contact a plumber – if your pipes are beginning to rust, it won't be long before they're leaking. If you notice stains on a wall or ceiling or damp, mushy spots on the wall, it's a good bet that there's a hidden pipe leaking, and it won't be long before a small leak turns into a big one. Are the cupboards under your kitchen and bathroom sinks full of cleaning supplies or other items? Crowded cupboards under sinks can sometimes hide a leaky pipe. Take everything out every so often and look for damp spots, dripping, or signs of mold and mildew growth – all telltale signs of a plumbing leak.
Learn How to Make a Temporary Fix
Say you find a pipe that's dripping just a little, and you won't have money to pay a plumber for another two weeks. You could put a bucket underneath the pipe and just hope the leak won't get any worse while you wait, but a better course of action would be to temporarily stop the leak so that it can't grow.
There's a simple way to make just this kind of temporary fix. Go to the hardware store and ask for fiberglass pipe wrap. This can be used on almost any type of pipe, and you don't need any tools to apply it. Just shut the water off, wrap the leak pipe with the pipe wrap, and allow it to harden for the length of time specified on the package. Once it's cured, you can turn the water back on, and your leak will be patched up, at least until you can get a plumber out to look at it.
You don't need to be a home improvement expert to handle these basic maintenance tips. You would be surprised by how many plumbing problems you can nip in the bud just by protecting your pipes, looking at them closely on a regular basis, and learning how to make some easy temporary fixes. If you can do those things, you'll spend less on plumber's bills and keep your home safe from water damage. For more information and tips, contact a local plumbing company or visit their website.