Plumbing expenses can add up--especially in older homes--unless you put some research and effort into maintaining your plumbing system. Fortunately, you can cut down expenses by developing habits that keep plumbing fixtures operating properly and efficiently.
The following are seven habits you should get into if you've have persistent plumbing issues that are starting to burn a hole in your wallet:
- Find the location of your main water turnoff- Home flooding is probably the most catastrophic and expensive plumbing issue. If you know where your main water turnoff is, you might be able to drastically reduce damage from a flooding or overflowing system.
- Don't use your toilet as a trashcan- Even some items that are supposedly "flushable" really shouldn't be put down the toilet. For example, it's best to throw baby wipes in the garbage rather than flush them down the toilet if you want to prevent clogs.
- Turn off the water when you go away- Turning off your water if you're going to be away from home for a while is a good idea. This is especially true in the winter when frozen pipes could cause a leak and flood that result in significant damage to your home's interiors.
- Prepare for the winter freeze- One of the most important plumbing maintenance tasks--especially in Canada--is preparing for the cold winter weather. It's important to turn off water to outdoor faucets in the late fall and ensure that your pipes are adequately insulated. Also, making sure your heating system is operating properly can help to prevent cold weather plumbing damage.
- Ask for estimates- If you need plumbing repairs and you have time, get a few estimates so you can have plumbing contractors competing against one another. If you simply take the first offer, you're probably paying more than you need to.
- Learn to identify minor issues that you can repair yourself- Even if you don't know the difference between a flat-head and a Phillips screwdriver, there are probably some minor repair needs you can handle yourself. For example, a loose toilet handle is a very easy fix that you could possibly handle yourself for only $20.
- Be careful who you hire- Many people with out-of-control plumbing costs have hired the wrong plumber. Repeat problems are a sign that your current plumber isn't properly servicing your system. Avoid the temptation to hire cheaper services through a general handyman rather than an experienced and highly qualified plumber.