As we start to spend more time outside in the warmer weather, spring is a great time to check your outdoor plumbing to make sure everything is in working order. After all, the sooner you find leaks the better chance you have of keeping water damage to a minimum.
This blog post will get your home ready for spring with plumbing maintenance tips for identifying and preventing water leaks.
Tip #1: Check and clean out gutters and downspouts
Though you may have cleaned your gutters and downspouts in the fall, there’s a good chance they filled up with debris and branches from the wind storms we had earlier this year. Debris from these storms could be clogging up your gutters with water which can create water damage, mold and leaks inside your house.
- Perimeter check: First do a perimeter check from the ground to make sure nothing has come loose or detached from the house. You can also do a visual check for signs of leaks.
- Gutter condition: Take some time to get on your ladder and check for loose or leaky gutters.
- Check for any debris or clogs: Make sure water is making its way out of the downspouts and away from the foundation of your house. Improper drainage can lead to water in the basement or crawl space.
- Roof condition: You should also do a visual check of your chimney and the shingles on your roof during this process to see if there is any damage there as well.
Quick Tip: Don’t worry if climbing a ladder is not for you, check with contractors in your area to see if they can provide this service.
Tip #2: Check outside faucets
Though we only had a few days below zero this past winter, you should always check outside hose faucets for freeze damage. This is especially important if you left a garden hose attached all winter because then water can’t drain out and can freeze and burst the pipe. Most times you won’t even know the pipe burst until you turn on the outside faucet for the first time when, to your surprise, you’ve got water running out of the faucet, or worse, back into the interior walls.
- Faucet check: You can perform a quick test on each of your faucets by turning them on for a bit, then off. If you see water in places it shouldn’t be – you’ve got yourself a busted pipe in the wall that will need to be replaced.
- Water flow: You can also check the faucet by turning the water on and placing your thumb or finger over the opening. If you can stop the flow of water, the pipe inside the home is likely damaged and will need to be replaced. Give the technicians at Mr. Swirl a call and we’ll be glad to help.
Quick tip: If your outside faucet is dripping but you caught the leak soon after it started, there is a possibility that you can repair the faucet by replacing a washer. However, after only a short period of time water creates a groove inside the faucet that is not repairable. If the faucet has been leaking for more than a couple of weeks, the entire faucet will most likely need to be replaced.
Tip #3: Check your main water line
Your main water line supplies water to your entire property so it’s important to ensure these underground pipes are maintained. Since you can’t see the plumbing itself, there are other signs you can look for to determine if you might have a water leak in your main water line.
- Look for wet spots: On the next dry day, check to see if you have any wet or soggy spots in the yard, or possibly a wet sidewalk. If you find signs of a water leak in your yard, it is most likely coming from your main water line.
- Call a plumber: Your next best step is to call a professional plumber to take a look and determine the full length of water damage.
Quick tip: Give the technicians at Mr. Swirl a call and we’ll be glad to help assess potential damage to your main water line.
Tip #4: Check for leaks in your water box
Most houses are equipped with a shut off valve that can turn off the main water supply coming in to the house. It is important to know where your shut off valve is located in case you have a leak and need to shut off the water quickly to prevent water damage. Taking a few minutes to find your shut off valve and ensure it is in working order might save you some heartache later on.
- Locate water box: Your water box is typically located in a valve box in a flowerbed or under some bushes or shrubbery close to your house.If you can’t seem to locate your valve box, one hint is to locate the round meter box near the street and follow a straight line towards the house. You might need to dig around a bit to uncover it.
- Look inside: Once you’ve located the valve box, remove the lid and take a look inside. If you see water in the box (and it hasn’t rained recently), you might have a leak.
- Check valve condition: When you remove the valve box lid, also take time to see if the valve is in working order or if it looks rusted out. If your shut off valve is old and rusted, it’s time for a new one!
Quick Tip: After shutting off water to the home, be very careful turning it back on by doing it slowly. Changing the water pressure on old plumbing valves too quickly can cause them to leak. We recommend having someone inside monitoring fixtures and shut off valves (behind toilets, under sinks, behind washing machines, water heaters, etc.) to ensure no leaks spring up as you’re turning the water back on.
Tip #5: Clean yard and inspect drainage
It’s important to regularly check your drainage because water flow can shift over time as the ground settles. Spring rain in particular can cause flooding in the yard which can result in foundation flooding and damage. Pools of water in the yard are also a breeding ground for insects such as mosquitoes.
- Clean debris from yard: Start with a clean yard so that you can assess how water might flow through it and where it might pool.
- Identify low areas: Look for low areas with poor drainage, especially near the house.
- Fill low areas: Low areas in the yard or next to the foundation should be filled with compacted soil.
- Repair draining issues: Repair any drainage issues with the yard and landscaping to make sure you don’t have any problems related to standing water or flooding.
Found a leak? Now what?
If after doing these inspections you find a leak, it’s time to call a professional for a complete leak inspection. The sooner the leaks are fixed, the less damage and cost you will endure.
Need help checking for leaks?
If you don’t have the time to perform a thorough leak check yourself, you should get the help of a professional who can rely on expertise to provide a quick assessment. Even if you did a quick check on your own and didn’t find any leaks, you may still want a professional leak inspection to help uncover problems you might not be able to see.