Your plumbing is the most essential system in your home. It transports water in, but also takes unwanted wastewater out. It is up to the homeowner to keep the plumbing system healthy, but at the same time, it is a daunting task to undertake. Fortunately, there are simple maintenance and repair measures you can take to preserve and protect the life of your plumbing fixtures and pipes that will also save you money on water heating and consumption. These five (secret, but not so secret anymore) tips will show you ways to become more comfortable and confident with your home plumbing and save you money at the same time.
1. Assess your Water Usage.
Without spending a dime, make a habit of assessing water usage in your home by checking your water meter. Locate your water meter and read the amount measured. Note the amount displayed. Wait an hour or two. This is a particularly good thing to do at night when you know that no one is using any water. Reread the meter after some time has passed to whether water is still flowing through your pipes. This could mean that you have a leak.
2. Insulate your pipes to save you money down the road.
Exposed pipes should be insulated to protect them from freezing. Bare pipes that freeze will rupture, which causes fractures and puts great pressure on your pipes. Insulating your hot water pipes reduces the energy used to supply hot water to your sinks or tub, especially where the water has to travel long distance to source the outlet.
3. Install low-flow plumbing fixtures on your faucets and showerheads.
Low-flow aerators run about $5 each and can cut waste by up to 25%. This is an especially important upgrade for faucets that were installed prior to 1994, which use extreme amounts of water compared to contemporary makes and models. There have likewise been advances to modern shower head technology. Today’s showerheads use dramatically less water and you will likely not be able to tell the difference.
4. Regularly clean and maintain your plumbing fixtures.
To prevent future, costly problems, cleaning your plumbing fixtures is critical. Use a powder or tablet cleaner specifically made for garbage disposals once a month. You can prevent wear and tear and clogs if you steer away from putting unfavorable food items down your garbage disposal, such as meat, celery, fruit pits, banana peels, and bones. Tablet toilet bowl cleaners should never be put in the tank, as this can cause unnecessary damage to the flushing mechanism. Regularly remove debris from faucet aerators by taking them off and soaking them in vinegar.
5. Lower the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees.
120 degrees is sufficient for heating water without producing scalding temperatures. For every 10 degrees that you lower the thermostat, you save 4% on energy costs. There is also a “vacation setting” that is vital to keep water from heating unnecessarily when you are not at home.