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Preventive Plumbing Maintenance: Tips for Calgary Homeowners

preventive plumbing

Your home’s plumbing is a complex, intricate system that needs proper care and maintenance to run smoothly. Your plumbing system includes all of the pipes that carry fresh water to your home (including those leading to fixtures like your sink, toilet, dishwasher, washing machine, hot water heater, and bathtub) as well as your drainage system that carries away used water and waste to your sewer or septic tank. Even though we use our plumbing system every day, most people don’t think much about it until something goes wrong. Because of Calgary’s geography and dry climate, you’ll need to deal with a few unique challenges that can wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing. The good news is that many problems and emergencies can be averted with regular preventive maintenance. Here are some tips:


1. Invest in a Water Softener

Southern Alberta, including Calgary, has hard water. This means that the water being delivered to your home has a high mineral content including calcium, magnesium, and other trace minerals. You may notice that it’s difficult to make suds in your sink, or find hard water stains on your clothes after washing them. Hard water can also do a number on your residential plumbing system when these minerals slowly build up in your pipes and drains. This can cause clogs or reduced water flow, as well as wear down appliances, causing them to operate less efficiently and reduce their lifespan. The most common way to treat hard water is by investing in a home water softener. This is a water filtration system that filters out the hard water minerals in your water.  


2. Flush Correctly

You should never flush anything down your toilet except for human waste and toilet paper. This includes paper towels, feminine hygiene products, wipes (yes, even if the package says “flushable”), or any food leftovers. Your toilet is not a garbage disposal! If you do run into a clog, be sure to clear it right away. Try pouring extra water into the toilet bowl and using a plunger. Stubborn clogs may need a toilet auger or a professional plumber.  


3. Clean Your Hot Water Tank

You’ll want to completely drain and clean your hot water tank every six months to a year. Especially in Calgary, mineral sediments can accumulate in the bottom of your water heater and it’s important to remove this sediment to prolong the life of your tank. Hot water tank repairs and replacements are among the most costly! Do yourself a favour and put them off as long as possible.  


4. Winterize

In Calgary, we get cold, harsh winters. Long stretches of subzero temperatures can cause your pipes to freeze in the winter. If you’re running your plumbing consistently then this shouldn’t be an issue. However, many Calgarians head south on vacation and your pipes can freeze when left unused. If you have someone checking on your home while you’re away, get them to run the taps and flush the toilets occasionally. If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, you’ll need to properly winterize your plumbing system. This includes allowing all water to drain from your pipes, emptying your water heater, and turning off the entire water supply to your home. You’ll need to disconnect any outdoor hoses and faucets and fill all fixtures with an antifreeze solution. Frozen pipes can crack or even burst, resulting in costly repairs. You might want to consider hiring a professional plumber to ensure your home is ready for your getaway.  


5. Check for Leaks

Even small leaks in your faucets, pipes, or appliances can drastically increase your water bill. Plus, ignoring a leak will only make matters worse when a minor drip turns into a major crisis. Leaks are common, so be sure to regularly check any exposed pipes for cracks, drips under the sinks, puddles around appliances, or dampness in the walls. If you’ve noticed your water meter reading is unusually high, it could mean you have a leak.  


6. Clean Your Drains

About once a month, or anytime you notice your drains running slowly, pour a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down your drains. This prevents clogs and clears your drains of debris. Consider installing a strainer or drain guard in your sinks or bathtub.These inexpensive products help prevent hair, food, or other debris from going down your drain. Avoid purchasing chemical drain-cleaning products. While these products might be able to clear small blockages, they contain harsh chemicals that will corrode your pipes with regular use. A drain snake can help dislodge a stubborn clog, or it might be time to call a plumber.  


7. Watch Your Water Pressure

Consistently using maximum water pressure can put strain on your pipes, valves, and joints. Over time, this could lead to cracks and leaks in your plumbing system. You can test the water pressure in your home with a water pressure gauge, available at any hardware store. If your pressure runs high (over 80 psi) you can install a water pressure regulator so it can’t go above the required level. 


8. Find the Right Plumber

Even with preventive maintenance, plumbing problems do occur, especially in Calgary. Ideally, you’ll want to have the number of an experienced, reliable plumber before an emergency happens. Go online and read reviews and testimonials or ask friends and family if they use a reputable company they’ve had a good experience with. Make sure any plumbing company you consider is licensed and insured. Professional plumbers are not just useful in emergencies, but they can actually help with your preventative maintenance. During a routine maintenance inspection, a good plumber will examine your entire plumbing system, sewer lines, and appliances. This way, any leaks, cracks, damage, or other issues can get fixed before disaster strikes. In the end, annual inspections can save you time, money, and a major headache.  

Prevention is the best cure, and your home’s plumbing system is no exception. Most homeowners in Calgary run into plumbing issues at some time or another, but a bit of preventive maintenance can save you from major emergencies. If you’re looking for an experienced plumber for issues you are currently experiencing, or looking to book a maintenance inspection, call Mr. Mike’s Plumbing today.