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3 Basic Plumbing Maintenance Tips to Help Avoid Flooding

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Basic plumbing maintenance can reduce the potential for household flooding substantially. Though not all causes of home water damage are predictable and avoidable, staying ahead of indoor plumbing issues before they trigger flooding is a preventive step that’s well worth the time and effort. Like all household systems, plumbing pipes and drains incur wear and tear and degrade over time. Basic plumbing maintenance should therefore be an ongoing practice that focuses on the most likely causes of flooding. Here are three important items:

  • basic plumbing maintenanceTest all shutoff valves yearly. Everyone should know the location of the main water shutoff valve and how to operate it in case a water supply line inside the house breaks. Because valves may become frozen in the open position due to accumulation of mineral deposits, test-operate the main valve once a year to make sure it turns freely and shuts off the flow of water completely. Also test all individual shutoff valves inside the house such as those installed on the wall behind toilets and under sinks. If any shutoff valve is sticky or difficult to turn, don’t force it — contact a plumber.
  • Insulate exposed pipes. To prevent freezing that causes pipe rupture and flooding, keep frigid air away from water supply lines wherever possible. Insulate accessible spans of pipe with slip-on foam insulation sleeves, particularly in the crawl space under the house. Also seal any openings that allow outdoor air indoors, into areas such as the voids inside exterior walls and underneath the house.
  • No leakage is “normal.” In fact, apparently minor leaks such as pinholes in supply pipes that produce trivial drips are often a serious indicator of internal corrosion that may trigger a burst pipe and severe flooding. Signs of seepage around pipe joints is another red flag that the pipe construction is weakening and could burst at any time. Inspect all accessible spans of plumbing annually for signs of present or past leakage and don’t put off contacting a plumbing professional if you note any.

Ask a water damage professional at Rytech, Inc. about other basic plumbing maintenance to avoid flooding.

Common Causes of Broken Pipes

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

Broken pipes not only cause household damage: they make headlines, too. Recently, we read the story of the Missouri homeowner who was out of town for a brief getaway when a common water supply line inside his house ruptured. He returned to find that his home had been inundated with nearly 45,000 gallons of water in his absence. Broken pipes can inflict severe water damage to structure and valuables, as well as make a house toxic due to mold growth. Most pipe ruptures fall into one of three categories:

broken pipesFreezing

In winter, it’s a major cause of indoor water damage. Anywhere they are contacted by air below 28 degrees Fahrenheit, pipes may freeze and rupture. Pipes in unconditioned areas like crawl spaces and attics are at particular risk. Placing slip-on foam insulating sleeves on accessible pipes helps prevent freezing. So does sealing cracks and openings that allow frigid outside air into crawl spaces or exterior walls where pipes are routed.

Corrosion

While galvanized steel pipes have long been known for corrosion and rupture, copper pipes may internally degrade as well, leading to eventual failure. A major factor in the corrosion of copper pipes is the pH factor of the local municipal water supply. Water with a pH below 7 is acidic and over time corrodes copper piping from the inside out. A red flag is the appearance of pinhole leaks that “weep” small amounts of water. Because they may mask severe internal corrosion and an impending catastrophic pipe rupture, pinhole leaks should never be ignored. Contact a plumber ASAP.

Water Pressure

Water pressure straight from the municipal water supply line would be too high for your household plumbing. Therefore,  a pressure regulator at the meter reduces pressure to a safe level of about 40 to 50 p.s.i. However, if the regulator is defective or out of adjustment, pressure may rise high enough to cause pipe rupture. A plumber can attach a gauge to check the pressure, then check the regulator if necessary.

For more on recognizing and addressing issues that cause broken pipes, contact Rytech, Inc.