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12 Things Homeowners Must Know About Plumbing

Posted On: March 11, 2021

There are many things that homeowners must know about their plumbing systems in order to understand when and if a plumbing emergency exists. By taking the time to understand the basics of your plumbing system, you can avoid making unnecessary repair requests and even prevent further damage in your home when a plumbing disaster strikes. Let’s get started!

The 4 “Where’s” of Plumbing

Graphic showing different water valves
The first things that homeowners should know are the “where’s” of their plumbing system. There are many different moving parts to your home plumbing system, and it’s important to know where the key components exist that can affect the outcome of your plumbing repair needs. The following are the most important plumbing fixtures that homeowners should be able to easily locate:

  • Main Shutoff Valve: If a plumbing emergency strikes, the first thing you’ll want to do is shut off the main water supply to your home. The main shutoff valve is what stops the flow of water to the entire house, and is typically located either in the basement near the home’s front foundation wall, in the crawl space, near the water heater or kitchen sink, or underground outside within a “pit” near the property line.
  • Faucet Shutoff Valve: Most sinks, showers, water heaters, and toilets are equipped with their own shutoff valves. This knowledge comes in handy if leaks happen in specific plumbing fixtures that are not present elsewhere in the home. For example, if you know where your sink’s shutoff valve is, you can shut off the valve for the leaking sink without stopping the flow of water to your entire home.
  • Well or Water Line: Whether you source your water from a well or from the city’s main line, you’ll need to know where the main line exists that connects your home to the flow of water. This is particularly important as homeowners are responsible for any problems that happen with their main water line. Always know where your water lines are located to avoid damaging them — especially if you plan to do construction on your home in the future.
  • Sewer Clean-Out Valve: This is an especially important piece of equipment to be able to locate if you live in a home that experiences frequent clogging. If you ever experience a clog so deep under your house that you can’t get it out, your plumber may need to access the clean-out valve to remove the blockage.

The 4 “What’s” of Plumbing

genz ryan plumber graphic showing what's flushable drainable needs maintenance & water pressure
In addition to being able to locate certain fixtures, homeowners must understand a few basic facts about their plumbing systems. Knowing these plumbing ground rules can help you avoid catastrophic damage down the road:

  • What’s Flushable? It may come as a surprise to learn that even things marked as “flushable” on the package are not, in fact, flushable. The golden rule of flushing objects down the toilet is simple: Don’t do it unless it’s human waste or toilet paper.
  • What’s Drainable? Just as important for homeowners to understand are the materials that they should avoid sending down the drain. Hair, oil, grease, food debris, coffee grounds, and vegetable peelings are just a few examples of things that can seriously clog your sink.
  • What Needs Maintenance? Plumbing professionals agree that it’s important to have regularly scheduled maintenance for your system at least once every two years. Keep detailed records of when your plumbing maintenance occurred to avoid repair requests in the future. Genz-Ryan also offers plumbing maintenance programs.
  • What’s Water Pressure? High water pressure is the number-one cause of leaks in U.S. homes. Ensure your home’s water pressure remains at the recommended levels — 80 psi or lower. If you’re unsure what your home’s water pressure is, purchase a water pressure gauge or contact your local water company.

The 4 “How’s” of Plumbing

Cgraphic showing basic plumbing lessons
Plumbing problems can strike when you least expect them. But not all plumbing issues that arise require professional service to solve. By knowing the following four plumbing “how’s,” you can save on unnecessary repair requests for DIY jobs:

  • How to Remove Clogs & Clean Drains: Rule number one when it comes to clog removal — never use chemical cleaners on your drains. Like the “flushable” products we mentioned earlier, these chemicals can do more harm than good when it comes to removing blockages. Instead, use a plunger, plumber’s snake, or natural means to clean and clear your drains. One common technique involves placing a drain stopper in your sink or tub, pouring in boiling water, and removing the stopper to send the boiling water down the drain to break up the blockage.
  • How to Recognize & Fix Hard Water: It might be something minor like white spots on your wine glasses or as serious as drain clogs and frequent appliance breakdowns — either way, homeowners need to be able to recognize when hard water is affecting their home. Hard water is caused by an excess amount of minerals that can build up in your system, which can lead to blockages over time. Many times, homeowners will find it more difficult to clean dishes since hard water leaves residue behind, and that same residue can cause skin irritation. Purchasing a water softener can resolve the issue.
  • How to Un-Jam the Garbage Disposal: Modern garbage disposals are equipped with an un-jamming mechanism that can be activated with an Allen wrench tool. This tool is used to twist the blades back and forth until they release the item that’s stuck inside your disposal.
  • How to Fix Low Water Pressure: Solving low water pressure doesn’t always require a professional. Sometimes the solution could be as simple as making sure the water meter valve is open, cleaning your sink aerators, or ensuring the main water valve is open.

When to Contact a Plumbing Professional

While homeowners should have a firm understanding of their plumbing systems, sometimes it takes a skilled professional to eliminate a persistent problem. Genz-Ryan has the top-rated plumbing technicians you need to resolve virtually any plumbing problem in your home.

Get the expert service you need exactly when you need it by contacting our team today!

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