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9 Preventive Plumbing Maintenance Tips

When it comes to your home’s plumbing, an ounce of prevention is worth lots of money saved on costly repairs and big water bills. Beyond wasting water, plumbing leaks can cause significant damage to your home, and affect your family’s health by allowing mold and mildew to grow.

Think about it. Anytime you need to hire a plumber, you could see a fairly hefty bill, with major plumbing repairs reaching into the thousands.1 Add to this the cost of fixing related damage to ceilings, walls, floors or other parts of your home. Save yourself the headaches by identifying problems early and taking care of them quickly.

Signs you have a plumbing leak

  • Skyrocketing water bills
  • Visible mold and mildew outside the tub area; moldy walls, baseboards, ceilings or floors in the bathroom or kitchen
  • Musty-smelling rooms
  • Stained and damaged ceilings, walls or floors
  • Wet spots inside the house or outside on the lawn
  • Constantly running water meter

Follow these 9 home plumbing maintenance tips to prolong the life of your system

1.  Create a maintenance schedule.

  • Be sure to include a professional inspection, or have an expert do regular preventive maintenance. A good general guideline is once every two years for a newer system. If you live in an older home or required frequent tune-ups or fixes throughout the year, an annual schedule may be best. 

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2.  Check for leaks.

Small household leaks can add up to gallons of water lost every day.2 And the longer a leak goes undetected, the more damage it does.

  • At least once a week, check exposed pipes, toilets, sinks and appliances like your dishwasher, refrigerator, water heater or washing machine. If you find cracks, brittleness or leaking, the fixture may need replacement parts.
  • A water leak detector can reduce the risk of serious damage by alerting you to problems so you can act quickly. Some models will also shut off the water supply automatically, and track water usage, flow rate, pressure and more. You can install certain leak detectors yourself, while others require professional installation. And before you buy, check with your insurance company about partnerships with manufacturers that offer savings on the device. You might also be eligible for a premium discount. 

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3.  Keep your drains clear.

  • Install strainers in all of your sinks and the shower to keep hair and other debris from going down the drains. It does half the job of preventing a clog.
  • Every week, pour a mixture of vinegar and baking soda into your drains to clear any buildup. Experts recommend this method over a chemical drain cleaner because these products contain acids that can damage your pipes.3

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4.  Be careful what you flush.

The only items to flush down the toilet are human waste and toilet paper. Anything else − like hair, food waste, grease and wipes − can form solid masses and clog the drain.

5.  Keep an eye on faucets and showerheads.

  • Use the same solution of vinegar and baking soda to clean faucets and showerheads regularly so sediment doesn’t build up and prevent water from flowing properly.

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  • Make sure sink and shower handles don’t leak when you turn your water off.
  • Check under your sinks while the water runs to see whether any pipes are leaking. If you see any water stains, deal with the problem right away.

6.  Clean your water heater.

  • If you have a storage-type heater, flush the tank every six months to remove sediment that’s built up inside. Have a professional plumber inspect the heater every year for rust, broken valves, and loose or wet joints.

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  • If you own a tankless heater (also called an on-demand system), hire a professional to check the burner (if gas), pressure relief, venting system and water filter every year. Have any heating coils professionally cleaned every two years.

7.  Check the water pressure.

Most pipes and faucets can only withstand up to a specific level of water pressure − usually 40-60 psi. Anything that’s regularly above 80 psi could cause leaks.4

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  • If you don’t have a pressure regulator installed to reduce the water pressure coming into your home through the main water line, consult a plumber about adding one.

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8.  Take care of your septic system or sewer line.

A stoppage in either one could pose health risks.

  • Have the septic system inspected and serviced regularly. Flush human waste and toilet paper only!
  • If your house is served by municipal sewers, hire a professional sewer service to snake the line once a year to prevent floor drains from backing up.

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9.  Winterize your home’s plumbing inside and out.

When temperatures drop, any water in your pipes can freeze, causing them to burst and result in massive damage.

  • Inside your home, insulate pipes in unheated spaces, particularly attics, basements and garages. Seal cracks and openings. Insulate crawl spaces.

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  • Outside, shut off the water supply to hoses, faucets and sprinkler systems, and drain and insulate them.

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Does my homeowners insurance cover plumbing leaks?

Homeowners insurance generally covers ensuing water damage when it’s sudden or accidental. For example, if a pipe leaks due to wear and tear and damages a nearby wall, certain policies will cover the ensuing water damage to the wall. Most insurance policies wouldn’t cover the physical damage to the pipe that was caused by wear and tear.

Review your policy’s specific wording, or contact your insurer, to find out exactly what is or isn’t covered.

1 How Much Does Plumbing Repair Cost?, Forbes, July 2022.
2 WaterSense | Start Saving,, 2022.
3 9 Preventive Maintenance Tips You Should Know, Angi, June 2022.
4 How to Test Your Home's Water Pressure, The Spruce, August 2022.