The spring and summer seasons bring their own risks for plumbing issues. With the warmer weather come seasonal changes including increased water usage, so it’s important to do a quick survey of your home and property for any signs of trouble. Start by asking yourself these important questions that relate to water in and around your home:
- Are any drains running slow?
- Are we experiencing any reduction in water pressure?
- Are there new areas of clearly defined dampness or standing water in the yard?
- Has the water bill suddenly changed?
- How old is your water heater?
These questions all relate to important plumbing concerns that can crop up during the transition from cooler to warmer months.
What To Look For Outside
In the spring, we often notice the temperature of the air but don’t consider the temperature of the soil beneath our homes. The erratic spring weather that Texas is known for — especially several warm days punctuated by a severe cold snap — can wreak havoc on your plumbing system through thermal expansion, which is the expansion and contraction of materials caused by temperature fluctuations.
In addition to these fluctuations, as trees begin to grow again, their roots spread out in search of nutrients in the soil and may infiltrate vulnerable pipes. Keep an eye out for any areas of unexplained dampness or standing water that can indicate a broken or cracked pipe.
To make sure your sump pump is operating efficiently, pour a bucket of water into the pit where the sump pump is installed. The pump should immediately activate, drain the water, then deactivate. If it doesn’t, you have an issue with the unit that needs to be addressed.
Outdoor Plumbing and Drainage
Make sure any yard drains are clear of debris and unblock any vents. Check exterior faucets and hose bibs to make sure the water is flowing properly; in particular, watch for water leaking out of a faucet the first time you turn it on.
Don’t forget to check your gutters and downspouts. Gutters stuffed with organic debris can redirect water down the side of your home or onto the ground and around your home’s foundation. If left unaddressed, this type of overflow may cause water damage to your walls and ceiling in addition to staining your home’s exterior. Standing water can eventually seep into your basement or underneath your house, encouraging corrosion, mold development, and pest infestations – not to mention foundation damage that is difficult and expensive to repair.
What To Look For Inside
Low water pressure can be an important symptom of other problems; for example, drops in water pressure can result from leaks. If you experience multiple instances of low water pressure or your water pressure does not return to normal for several days, schedule a plumbing visit from a licensed professional immediately.
Pipes can develop problems in extreme heat as well as cold. In the “dog days” of July, August and early September, heat-related water main bursts are at their annual peak. A good way to tell if the heat is affecting your pipes is through the temperature of the water coming into your home. If you turn on the cold water and get lukewarm to hot water coming out for several minutes, your water pipe may already be leaking. These incidents can cost several thousand dollars to fix.
Outside temperature fluctuations can also cause hairline cracks in your interior fixtures, particularly in your faucets. The rubber gasket or washer inside faucets may wear out faster, too. Check faucets and indoor pipes for leaks by confirming there is no water escaping around the connections when faucets are shut off. The sound of dripping water, a higher amount of water usage, unexplained damp or “hot spots,” or musty odors can indicate leaky pipes behind walls or fixtures or under your floors.
Even if each toilet has no visible leaks in both the bowl and tank, put a half-dozen drops of food dye into the tank but don’t flush. If there is color in the bowl after an hour, you could have a leak in the system that should be checked by a professional.
Winter activities like hosting guests and cooking holiday meals can contribute to drainage issues due to buildup within your pipes. This type of slower draining may only appear in one fixture or one room, like a specific bathroom. If you have other drains that are rarely used, pour a gallon of hot water into the drain to clear out any debris; if the drain gurgles and doesn’t seem to be draining, put it on the list to ask your plumber about. Slow water movement in most or all of your drains, specifically in spring, may mean a tree root has entered a drain line, and again – call your plumber immediately.
Remember we asked how old your water heater is? A good rule of thumb is to be prepared to buy a new one when your current model has been installed for at least 10 years. Whatever its age, to maximize your energy efficiency, make sure your water heater is set no higher than 120 degrees. In addition, for safety reasons, make sure no items are stored directly around the unit.
For all water-bearing appliances like your dishwasher, washing machine and ice maker, check their supply hoses for leaks or bulging. If hoses are older than 10 years or showing signs of weakness, have them replaced by a professional plumber who knows what other signs of trouble to look for during the replacement process.
Ready to Schedule a Warm-Weather Checkup?
If you’ve noticed any of the warning signs listed here, contact a reputable, licensed plumbing professional like Horizon Plumbing to schedule a visit before things get any worse. Even if you haven’t
noticed any danger signs, it’s a great time to schedule an annual maintenance visit from us; many plumbing issues can be prevented by a routine visit by someone who knows exactly what to watch for.
Remember, as seasons change, applying these simple maintenance measures can help decrease the chances that your home will need expensive plumbing repairs.
To have your home’s plumbing inspected by a licensed plumber in the DFW metroplex, contact Horizon Plumbing today or call 817-461-1117 (no trip charge and new customers get $50 off their first repair).