One of the toughest seasons on a home’s plumbing system is the winter! There’s no denying that. From water heaters being under increased pressure to the possibility of pipes freezing (and maybe bursting), there are plenty of things for homeowners to be mindful of! However, if you’re reading this blog on the day it was posted, tomorrow is actually the first day of Spring. Congratulations, hopefully you survived the winter season without any plumbing emergencies and are ready to make sure you’re prepared for Spring!
While Kansas City has been known to throw some weather curveballs here and there, the Spring is going to present much different issues than those from the cold winter months. Our team at Stine-Nichols recently sat down together to discuss what items should fall on a Spring plumbing checklist. Some of these might sound obvious, while others could be something you’d never thought of! Nonetheless, we recommend all Kansas City homeowners going through this checklist to ensure you don’t have to pay the financial toll of an expensive plumbing repair!
Without further ado, let’s dive right in and check out the official 2020 Spring Plumbing Checklist!
Water heater maintenance
There’s a reason why we discuss water heaters so often here on the blog. It’s one of those appliances that we typically take for granted when it’s functioning properly and can be a massive headache when it acts up! In terms of maintenance, it’s important to touch on each of these items sporadically throughout the year:
- Set the thermostat on your unit to 120-degrees. While it can be safely turned up a few more degrees, this will save you a little bit on energy costs and still get the job done.
- Did you flush your water heater in the winter? We recommend flushing water heaters approximately once a year. While some of this depends on actual usage, an annual flushing is a good rule of thumb to remove the sediment that gets built up at the bottom of the tank.
- How old is your water heater? If it’s nearing 12 years and up, it’s important to keep a closer eye on it. These aren’t built to last forever. As a side note, if you have a tankless water heater, you’re looking at over 20 years of life.
Give your sump pump a trial run
Next on the agenda is your sump pump. As you likely know, the sump pump is going to be your best friend when it comes to preventing flooded basements and other plumbing emergencies. As a homeowner, the last thing you want is a flooded basement that occurs simply because the sump pump wasn’t operating correctly. Now that we’re getting ready to start Spring, test out the sump pump. Pour some water into the sump pump pit. Upon doing so, it should activate and then drain out the water, before deactivating. If it doesn’t do this, something is likely up and you should have an expert take a peek!
A few outdoors housekeeping items
While we typically associate plumbing with being inside the house, there are plenty of small areas outdoors that should also be on your mind entering the Spring season. Here’s just a few that can all be easily taken care of:
- Clean out all of your gutters and downspouts. Depending on nearby trees, this is something that will affect some more than others. In essence, your gutters and downspouts make up your storm water system and are tasked with ensuring water is able to escape the roof. When the gutters get clogged up with dirt and debris, this can be a challenge and will lead to damage to your ceilings and walls.
- Flush out your sprinkler system and see if there’s any leaks. While doing so, make sure the sprinklers aren’t hitting any part of your house.
- If you’re planting any new trees, make sure to stay clear from any piping installed underground.
- Test any outdoor faucets. If it is just dripping or a leak appears inside after turning them on for the first time, chances are there may be a crack. Turn it back off and get a plumbing professional out to take a look.
Check around for leaks
This next point may seem a little vague, but is certainly something you’ll want to keep in mind throughout the year. Checking for leaks should be on your to-do list a few times throughout the year, particularly each time there’s drastic weather changes. The quicker you can catch a leak, the better off you’ll be in the long run. As a result, with the first day of Spring being tomorrow, take a minute to examine some of the common areas where leaks occur:
- Check out your toilet to ensure it’s flushing properly. If you have to hold the handle down or jiggle it to get it flush, there’s a decent chance you’ll need to replace a part somewhere or simply tighten something. Either way, this is an easy and affordable fix.
- Another way to test for leaks in the toilet is to put a couple drops of food dye in the tank. Check back around 30-60 minutes later (while not flushing) and if the water in the bowl is colored, you have a leak. When this happens, more often than not, your problem resides with the flapper. These can be purchased for under $10 at Home Depot.
- When the water is turned off, make sure there’s no water escaping the connections on the faucets.
- Inspect any visible pipes, whether that be under the sinks or in the basement.
Don’t forget about those drains that you hardly use
For any drains or floor drains that aren’t used very often, pour some water in to flush them out and check for any potential leaks. It wouldn’t hurt to also have these snaked by a trained technician to ensure no future issues arise.
Detect leaks using the water meter
There are a few different ways to use the water meter to detect a leak, but one of the easiest ways is to utilize the meter readings. After taking one, wait a couple hours (without using any water) and then take another reading. If it has changed, you likely have a leak.
With this known, it’s now time to determine whether that leak is occurring indoors or outdoors. To do so, locate where the home’s main shut off valve is and turn it off. As evidenced above with the water meter reading method, take a reading, wait a couple hours and take another one. If no change is present, you have a leak inside the house. At this point, we would recommend calling in an experienced plumber to find the exact location where the leak is at and make the necessary repairs.
Have an expert get your prepared for Spring
If after reading this, you’re still a little concerned whether or not your plumbing is ready for Spring, you’re not alone! There’s plenty of areas in a home that can be affected by the temperature changes going from Winter to Spring and it can seem a little intimidating! If this is you, our team at Stine-Nichols Plumbing would be happy to lend a hand and get you prepared. Whether that means performing a complete inspection or making specific repairs, we’re always ready to go in a moment’s notice.
Give us a call at 816-348-3481 or fill out the form here to get started. Our operations manager, Jim Nichols, will follow up with you and provide a free quote for any services needed!