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How often do you think about your plumbing system? Probably not very often. Unless there's a problem, we tend to take our plumbing for granted. We just assume it'll work when we need it to. When it doesn't, it is incredibly disruptive and frustrating. However, knowing the basics of your plumbing system and what to do when there is a problem can save you time and money.

Below we review five things every homeowner should know when it comes to their plumbing system and why. Keep reading to learn more.

#1: Know How to Shut Your Water Off

When dealing with a plumbing problem, you will need to know how to shut your water off to prevent the problem from getting worse. In emergencies, like a flood or overflowing toilet, you don't want to waste any time. Familiarizing yourself with your home's shut-off valve and individual appliance and fixture shut-off valves can save you time, money, and further damage. If you cannot find the individual shut-off valve for the appliance or fixture with the problem, you should find and turn off your home's main water valve.

Generally speaking, your home's water shut-off valve is located on the perimeter of your home near where the main water line enters your home. This is most often on the street side as the water main comes from the municipal source that most often runs under or adjacent to the street. If your water valve has a round turn knob, you will need to turn it clockwise to turn off the water. If your valve is a lever, you will most likely need to turn it perpendicular to the pipe.

#2: Familiarize Yourself with Common Plumbing Problems

While we cannot prepare for everything, being familiar with the problems you are most likely to experience can help you respond to them if they happen. For example, knowing that overflowing toilets are common and what to do when it happens can help you feel more confident in a crisis and can help prevent the problem from escalating.

Some of the most common plumbing problems include:

  • Clogged toilets
  • Clogged bathroom drains
  • Dripping faucets
  • Garbage disposal breakdowns
  • Low water pressure
  • No hot water
  • Stinky drains

Some of these problems can be handled on your own, especially if they are infrequent issues. For example, when dealing with an overflowing toilet, you can turn the water off at the source and then use a plunger to clear the clog. Meanwhile, a blocked garbage disposal may only require you to remove the jammed object (be sure to turn the disposal off first!).

However, some of these problems are more serious and should be handled by a professional. For example, low water pressure can be caused by several issues, such as a plumbing leak or a clog somewhere in your system. To solve more significant or chronic problems, you should work with an experienced plumber, like ours at Donmar Heating, Cooling & Plumbing.

#3: Avoid Using Chemical Drain Cleaners & Schedule Professional Drain Cleaning Instead

If you are dealing with chronic drain clogs or backed-up sinks, it can be tempting to buy a jug of Drano or other hardware store drain cleaning to try and clear the clog yourself. However, this can do more damage to your plumbing system. Chemical drain cleaners are designed to eat through clogs, but the chemicals can't distinguish between a drain clog and your piping. Consequently, they are responsible for corrosion and damage to your piping. They also rarely resolve the clog issue fully.

When your drains are clogged, and you cannot solve the problem with a plunger, or if you are experiencing chronic clogs, you should contact one of our plumbers for an inspection and professional drain cleaning. Our plumbers can perform a thorough review of your system and identify what is causing your clogging issues. For example, are you dealing with root intrusion in your sewer line, or are you putting things down the garbage disposal you shouldn't? We can then provide you with highly effective drain cleaning services that get your system running again and won't damage your system.

Typically, professional drain cleaning only needs to be performed every 18-24 months.

#4: Know the Signs of a Water Leak

Water leaks can be pernicious and often go unnoticed until they have done significant damage. This is usually because most of our plumbing is tucked away, out of sight behind walls and under our flooring. Leaking water not only costs you money on your water bill, but it can also lead to significant property damage and dangerous mold growth in your home. The sooner you notice a water leak, the sooner you can schedule repairs and avoid substantial damage.

The signs of a water leak include:

  • Damp carpet or warped hardwood flooring
  • Staining on walls and ceilings
  • Mold or mildew growth
  • Increased humidity in your home
  • The sound of running water when all taps are off
  • An increased water bill

If you notice any of these issues or suspect a water leak, call our plumbers right away.

#5: Get to Know a Good Plumber

While there is a lot a homeowner can do on their own to keep their plumbing system healthy and operational, knowing a good, professional plumber can be invaluable. Besides providing you with experienced guidance and professional services, your plumber is a great resource whenever you have a question or concern about your plumbing system. It is also a good idea that you work with a local plumber with an established reputation in the area.

At Donmar Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we are well-known for our expertise and excellent customer service. We are passionate about what we do, and as a licensed and insured plumber, we take our job seriously. With 30+ years of experience behind us, there isn't a plumbing issue we can't tackle.