Technician working on sink pipe

How to Prevent Plumbing Leaks, Clogs and Flooding

You rely on your home’s plumbing system to support daily chores and plumbing fixtures, but potential problems can hide around every corner. Thankfully, you can avoid clogs, leaky pipes and even flooding with a little preventive maintenance. Here’s how you can keep your plumbing in check and your worries at bay.

Find and Prevent Leaks

Most of your home plumbing system is out of sight, so water issues often go unseen until they cause major problems. Regularly checking for leaks can help you identify problems quickly. Here’s how:

  • Look under the sink for signs of standing water, wood decay or mold.
  • Find small leaks in your toilet by adding a few drops of coloring to the tank. If the color shows up in the bowl after 30 minutes without flushing, you’ve got a leak.
  • Inspect around and behind your appliances, including the dishwasher or washing machine, for signs of water damage or leaking.
  • Conduct a water meter test.
    • First, shut off all water in your home via the water main.
    • Then, head outside to read the water meter. Check one more time after two hours, and make sure not to use any water before the second reading.
    • If the reading changes, there is a leak somewhere.

Use Drain Strainers

Another effective way to avoid a clog is to place sink strainers over your kitchen sinks and bathroom drains. They catch hair, bits of soap, crusty toothpaste and other debris as water enters the drain. Stick to a regular schedule when you clean these strainers to keep your drains running smoothly.

Understand What Shouldn’t Be Flushed

Toilets are designed to safely remove human waste and toilet paper. Here’s what you should never flush:

  • Baby and/or wet wipes
  • Paper towels
  • Cotton swabs and cotton balls
  • Women’s hygiene products
  • Diapers
  • Dental floss
  • Expired medication

Understand What Shouldn’t Be Rinsed

Your kitchen sink may be outfitted with a garbage disposal, but several things still should go in the trash or compost heapp, instead of dumped into the drain, including:

  • Cooking grease
  • Stringy foods like corn husks and celery
  • Congealed food like boiled rice or coffee grounds
  • Solid objects such as gristle and bones
  • Anything that isn’t edible. Silverware and similar items may end up in the disposal and damage something when you turn it on.

Invest in a Sump Pump

Installing a sump pump can really help prevent flooding, particularly in areas prone to heavy rainfall. This device extracts water that accumulates in its sump basin, usually found in the basement, and drains it away from the house. For homeowners who already have a sump pump, test it regularly by pouring water into the pit. If the pump activates and the pit drains, it’s working fine. If it doesn’t seem to be working properly, you have time to call a professional to service it before the next big storm.

Know Where the Main Shutoff Valve Is Located

Being knowledgeable about your plumbing system means knowing how to find your main water shutoff valve. This valve manages water entering your home, so knowing where it is means you can turn it off quickly in a plumbing emergency. It’s also wise to shut off this valve before leaving town for an extended period. Common locations for the main shutoff valve include the basement, near the water heater, in a utility closet or outside the home under the ground.

Do Everything You Can to Avoid Frozen Pipes

In climates with cold winters, helping protect vulnerable pipes is a good part of any plan to minimize the risk of freezing and bursting. Here is what you can do:

  • Cover pipes in the appropriate insulation in unfinished spaces like the basement, garage or attic with insulating foam or heating tape.
  • Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets during the winter to stop ice from forming inside the pipes.
  • Keep under-sink cabinet doors open during cold spells to encourage airflow around the pipes.

Install a Backflow Valve

Experienced plumbers often suggest that homeowners put in a backflow valve in the basement floor drain to prevent sewage from flowing back into their homes during heavy rainfall. Local expert plumbers can fit this strong layer of protection against sewage backflow.

Set Up Flood Alarms

Similar to how smoke alarms are essential for fire safety, flood alarms can help avoid water damage. These electric or battery-operated devices sense pooling water at the earliest stages of flooding or leaks, setting off an alarm to inform you. For further protection, add smart flood alarms into your home security system. This alerts you on your phone as soon as water has been detected, enabling you to address leaks before it leads to significant damage.

Partner with a Trusted Plumber

While you can take a wide variety preventive steps yourself to minimize the risk of clogs, leaks and flooding, sometimes it takes Expert local plumbers to keep things flowing smoothly. That’s where McLoughlin Plumbing Heating & Cooling comes in. We are a network of plumbers serving U.S. homes from coast to coast with service backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

If you’re not completely satisfied with our services up to a year later, we promise to make it right. This industry-leading dedication shows how we ensure a complete sense of comfort in your life. For professional local plumbing service that exceeds expectations, please contact us today.