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7 Lessons Homeowners Should Learn About Plumbing

All functional households rely on a well-maintained plumbing system for everyday comfort and convenience. Unfortunately, some homeowners never take the time to learn anything about how this critical system works, or about what can go wrong when trouble strikes. Sooner or later, this lack of knowledge can lead to unexpected and avoidable service disruptions, as well as potentially major repair or replacement expenses. Here are seven important things you should know about your household plumbing in order to keep risks for unforeseen mishaps as low as possible.

1) Learn the Basics of Your System – A good overall grasp of the nature of your plumbing system can prove invaluable when problems arise. In addition to helping you carry out appropriate do-it-yourself solutions, this kind of knowledge can help you provide a plumbing expert with critical advance information when major problems arise. If you live in a developed area such as a subdivision or urban center, your plumbing system almost certainly connects directly to a larger municipal/regional water supply network. However, residents of outlying areas may sometimes rely on local wells, instead. In addition, most of the region’s households connect directly to a larger sewer system. Alternatively, you may have a septic tank installed on your property.

2) Know How to Locate and Shut Off Your Main Water Line – All households in built-up areas of Orange County are connected to their municipal/regional water system through a main water line. The connection point for this line typically lies near the border of your property. In addition, all household water systems connected to a municipal/regional network come equipped with a shutoff valve that will allow you to completely halt the flow from the network into your building.

If you develop a major leak somewhere within or outside your home, knowledge of the location of this valve may be the only thing that helps you avoid serious flooding-related damage. In some cases, you may find the shutoff at the edge of your property near the water meter. However, you may also have a separate valve installed on the exterior of your building. Most professional plumbers recommend that you close the shutoff valve slowly so you can avoid potentially damaging shifts in water pressure.

3) Know How to Shut Down Individual Sections of Your Plumbing System – Most of the time, problems with your plumbing affect part of the system, not the entire system. Classic examples of this common scenario including kitchen sink leaks, toilet leaks and water heater malfunctions. Your plumbing system is designed to allow you to shut down many affected areas without having to resort to a full shutdown of the main water line. If you learn the locations of these local shutoff points (e.g., under the kitchen sink, behind each toilet or near the water heater), you can save yourself a lot of stress and hassle when problems arise. Instead of losing the water supply to your entire building, you’ll just lose the flow through the specific damaged or malfunctioning area.

4) Learn the Telltale Signs of Leaky Pipes – The sources of plumbing leaks in your household are sometimes quite obvious. However, if you don’t know what to look for, you can easily fail to recognize certain types of leaks. In turn, this failure can lead to worsening problems and needless increases in your eventual repair or replacement bill. Here are several telltale indications that may point to the presence of significant leaking:

  •         Dark rings or other forms of discoloration on an interior wall (potential indicator of a plumbing leak or a roof leak)
  •         Sagging or wet floors, especially in a kitchen or bathroom
  •         Visible signs of mold development
  •         The smell of mildew in an interior space, and
  •         Unexplained or unexpected increases in your monthly water bill

5) Learn the Telltale Signs of a Slab Leak – Slab leak is the name commonly used for a leaking pipe located beneath or within the concrete slab that forms the foundation of your home. In a worst-case scenario, this form of leaking can end up costing you thousands of dollars in repair/replacement costs. For this reason, you should make slab leak detection a specific area of focus. Key things to look for include:

  •         Cracked floor tiles
  •         Unexplained bubbles in a linoleum surface
  •         Constantly moist carpets
  •         A low, unexplained splashing or hissing sound in any given room
  •         An unexplained warm spot in your floor
  •         An unexplained or unexpected increase in your water bill
  •         A gradual or sudden decline in your household water pressure, and
  •         Cracked interior walls (indication of severe problems and a shifting foundation)

6) Know How to Shut Off Your Gas Supply – The natural gas supply lines in your house are traditionally viewed as part of the larger plumbing system. Like the water lines in most Orange County homes, these lines typically enter your property through a single main connection. However, you may also have a separate gas or propane tank installed directly on your property. Every homeowner should know how to shut off the flow of gas when a known or suspected leak occurs. In addition to identifying the location of the master shutoff valve, identify the location of the shutoff valve for each individual gas-powered appliance. That way, you can stop the local flow to the affected appliance instead of cutting off your entire household supply.

7) Learn How to Read Your Water Meter and Monthly Bill – As we’ve already noted, unexpected or unexplained increases in your monthly water costs may indicate the presence of an otherwise undetected leak. However, unless you know how to read your water bill and track month-to-month changes, you can easily overlook gradual increases or end up downplaying the seriousness of the issue. You can also potentially identify leaks by making short-term observations of the readings on your water meter. Again, to take advantage of this detection method, you must know how to track meter readings and interpret their significance. The local entity that supplies water to your home is your chief go-to resource in both of these areas. Upon request, they should supply you with any needed help.

You can also get a thorough rundown on any plumbing-related issues from a trusted plumbing professional, such as Orange Coast Plumbing. We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a years for any plumbing emergencies or issues you may encounter. We look forward to serving you with our 40 years of plumbing expertise soon.