Plumbing problems usually revolve around one of three things: clogs, leaks, or drips. It pays to be familiar with your plumbing system so you can minimize the damage caused by plumbing problems as well as fix minor problemson your own.
The most important thing you can do is find out where the main water shut off valve is and how to turn it off. This is usually either outside your home or in your basement or crawlspace. If you can not find it or don’t know how to turn it off, contact your utility company and have them show you. If any tools are necessary to turn off your water, keep them handy. Being able to shut your water off at the main valve can be vital to reducing damage to your home if a pipe were to burst.
You should also check each plumbing appliance (sinks, toilets, etc.) for their own shutoff valves and verify they work. If the valves fail to turn off water to the appliance, you should have them fixed by a professional plumber. These valves come in handy when the need arises to repair individual appliances. If an appliance has no valves, you will need to shut off your water at the main valve to repair it.
When it comes to clogs and slow drains, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In the tub or shower, invest in an inexpensive hair trap or screen to prevent the majority of hair and soap scum from going down the drain. In the kitchen, don’t pour cooking grease down your drain. It will harden and coat your pipes with a sticky scum that will catch other particles and eventually clog the pipe. Instead, keep it in a coffee can or milk container and dispose of it with your garbage once it’s cooled. You should also avoid dumping coffee grounds down . They’re notorious for causing clogs.
Maintaining your drains on a
Maintaining your drains on a weekly basis is also a good idea to keep your pipes clear. One way to do this is to pour a half-cup of salt, a half-cup of baking soda and a half-cup of vinegar down the drain and follow with two quarts of boiling water.
If you do encounter a clog, don’t panic. Clogs and slow drains most commonly occur in areas that can be easily cleared on your own without the help of a pro (if more than one drain or toilet is affected, you will need to contact a plumber). First, try a plunger. www.repair-home.com/Using_a_Snake, has easy to follow instructions for the use of a pipe-snake. There is also the option of using chemical clog removers. Be sure to follow the package instructions when using them.
Leaks can be slowed or stopped until you’re able to get a plumber out to your home by following the steps on this article: www.ehow.com/how_2329_repair-leaky-pipes.html. Please keep in mind that this is a temporary measure only, but it will help prevent water damage until your plumber fixes the problem.
Many plumbing repair projects don’t require the help of a professional. Replacing faucets, garbage disposals, sinks, and toilets are all easily accomplished by the do-it-your self if you have the right tools and information. DIYnet.com is a great resource for many home repair projects.
If you would like a thorough, professional inspection of your plumbing system by an expert, please contact our office. We have the expertise to detect problems invisible to the untrained eye to help you head off problems before they start. We will also provide you with a full report summarizing our findings and recommended course of action if necessary as well as estimated costs of repair.
Hidden water damage
Water is a powerful force. Any doubt of this fact can be erased bya simple visit to the Grand Canyon. And whileyour home is in no danger of becoming one of the SevenWonders of the World, water can wreak havoc on a much smallerscale.
Water damage can come from several sources: floods, burst pipes, leaky roofs, see page, etc. Many types are obvious, as is the damage caused by them. But even if you can’t see the damage right away, a slow flow of water can often be worse than obvious leaks. Left untreated, it can cause:
• Pipe corrosion
• Foundation damage
• Foul odors
Repairing hidden water damage can be an even greater challenge. Depending upon the source of the damage, it may or may not be covered by home owner’s insurance. In the case of mold, getting rid of the problem may be amonumental undertaking.
How can you protect yourself from this menace? A professional inspection can help. Using advanced moisture detection devices, coupled with years ofexperience, we can often detect water damage long before it becomes a problem.
Problems with heating and cooling systems can range anywhere from elevated operating costs due to an older, inefficient system to hazardous malfunctions. It is important to be familiar with your heating and cooling systems and to maintain them properly to avoid any dangerous conditions or costly repairs.
One of the most important things you can do to maintain the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems as well as the air quality in your home is to make sure that your ducts and filters are cleaned or replaced regularly. Duct cleaning takes the expertise of a professional. If you need to find aduct cleaning service in your area, this link is a good resource:http://www.nadca.com/zm2/search1.asp
It’s a good idea to also clean your registers and vents regularly between yourduct cleaning service’s visits. This can be done easily by cleaning andremoving the registers and then vacuuming out the ducts as far as your vacuumhose can reach.
There are several easy and inexpensive things you can do yourself to maintainthe efficiency of your heating system. If your heating system is a forcedair furnace, you should clean or change the filter frequently (every 2-3 weeksduring the cold months). If you have a radiator, you will need to “bleed"it of trapped air that would prevent the water from running through the system efficiently. You can do this by opening the bleeding valve until water comes out and then closing it – be careful as the steam and water is veryhot. Be sure to have something handy to catch the water. If you have a hot water heating system, you’ll need to clean the boiler by opening thedrain valve until the water runs clear. This should be done approximatelyonce a month.
You should also do some regular maintenance on your cooling system. Forcentral air conditioners, it’s a good idea to hire a professional service togive your system a check-up before the hot months begin. This usually involves a thorough cleaning of the air conditioning unit and a refill of the coolant if needed. Monthly, you should also check the unit for blockages and remove any vegetation growing around it that could interfere with itsproper functioning. You should also clean or change the filter and checkthe condensate drain at least monthly. For window units, you should cleanor replace the filter at least monthly, bi-weekly during the hottest months. You should also check the condensate drain to make sure that allmoisture is draining properly.
If your HVAC systems run on natural gas, make sure you know where your gas shutoff valve is in case you need to close it. You should also make sure tokeep an adjustable wrench handy for this purpose. If you ever smell gas, follow the below steps:
• Evacuate your home.
• Once everyone is safely out of the home, shut off the gas supply from the external shut off valve (this will be located near your gas meter).
• Call the utility company or emergency service to report the leak.
If you would like an expert opinion on thecondition of your HVAC systems, please contact us for quotes
How to Pass anInspection
Sellers can be fearful of home inspections, but there is little need to worry. Good home inspectors only note true issues. Homeowners should mention any known problems up front and honestly. The following are helpful hints for passing an inspection:
1. Keep Up with General Maintenance.
Little problems and minor annoyances can do real damage if left unchecked. A home that looks cared for creates a higher comfort level with thepurchaser.
2. The Three Things Which Cause the Most Property Damage…
…are water, water and water! From roof leaks, plumbing leaks, andground water infiltration. Do an objective survey of your home from attic to foundation and disclose and address any known water infiltration issues. Full disclosure also creates a higher comfort level for your potential purchaser.
3. Service your Heating and Air System.
Heating and air issues are frequent in inspections. Beforeselling have a fresh service done and change all your filters. Keepthe service receipt in a readily accessible place to show the home inspectorand purchaser. This will help you create a cleaner inspection report.
4. Caulk and Paint the Exteriors of yourWindows.
Poorly sealed windows can cause water infiltration and waterdamage. Painting and caulking will prevent these and protect the exteriorfrom weathering. After painting make sure the windows have not beensealed shut.
5. Look Carefully for Signs of Pests.
A termite letter is required when selling your home to insure thatthere are no pests. Check hotspots like the garage and basement forevidence. If signs are present, contact an exterminator.
6. Maintain your Roof.
A leak in your roof can cause big problems. Make sure tokeep your gutters clean and extend downspouts away from the foundation. Also look for problems with the flashing and worn shingles. If infiltration ispresent, address the issue immediately.
7. Run All your Appliances.
The inspector will review your appliances so you should evaluatetheir performance beforehand. Make any necessary repairs and replacementsso that everything functions properly.
Fix all leaks and drips. Make sure shower areas are properlycaulked to prevent water infiltration. Make sure toilets flushproperly and that water pressure is satisfactory. All drains should beclear.
9. Make Sure the Electrical System isSatisfactory.
Any ungrounded or dead sockets should be remedied. A homeinspector will review your electrical system and the main panelcarefully. If you have significant concerns contact an electricianbeforehand.
10. Fix-up the Exterior.
Do the common sense things (pruning, yardwork, pressure washing)to increase curb appeal. Also disclose and/or repair any visible water damageto siding and trim. In our humid climate minor water damage is very common toour exteriors.
11. Septic Tank Concerns.
Many homebuyers seem nervous about septic tanks. If it has beenmany years since the tank was pumped (8 or more), consider offering to pay tohave it pumped if the question arises. Certain loan programs will require thatanyway.
12. Consider a Pre-Listing Inspection.
This allows you to know about any hidden issues up front. You can then address the issues in a more reasonable time frame whichtranslates to easier and cheaper. With a pre-listing inspection you can presenta cleaner house to market and it can save you thousands over having tonegotiate repairs in the middle of a sale.