You don't need to be a second Noah to recognize the risks of a potential flooding problem in your home. You home is filled with plumbing components that could easily cause an entire level of your house to sustain serious water damage.
Luckily, you can keep your eyes and ears open for signs of possible issues with your plumbing system. You can also perform some simple maintenance or repair and replace tasks yourself, depending on your physical ability, skill, and willingness to work around dirty and smelly plumbing components.
Water heater maintenance
Except for perhaps a burst pipe, no other plumbing fixture poses as much of a threat of flooding as your water heater tank. The tank will eventually rust away at the bottom and release the contents of the tank onto the floor. When the tank is empty, the water will also run continuously from the supply line connected to the tank. You could have several feet of water in your home if the tank should rupture while you are away from home for an extended period of time.
If your tank is under ten years old, you can perform simple maintenance that may extend the life of the tank. One simple task is to pull the ring of the pressure valve on the side of the tank to release accumulated pressure inside the tank.
Another much more arduous task is to drain and refill the tank. You will need to shut off the power to an electric hot water tank or turn the gas level to "pilot" on a gas powered tank to keep the pilot light lit.
You will then shut off the valve to the supply line at the top of the tank. There is a male hose connection near the bottom of the tank that is designed specifically for draining the tank. The optimal way to drain the tank is to connect a garden hose to the drain connection on the tank. However, the hose must be able to drain in a relatively level position without any dramatic rise in elevation.
If this cannot be done, you must fill pails with water and cart them away until the tank is emptied. Water is surprisingly heavy, so don't get too ambitious with the size of the pail. When the tank is drained, you can turn on the supply valve and restore the power to allow the fresh water to be heated.
Washer hoses pose the same threat as a water heater. They are connected to pressurized supply lines, and if they burst from age or damage, water will flow continuously until the supply line is shut off. Washer hoses should be replaced approximately every three years.
All you need to replace washer hoses are the hoses themselves (you must use a hot water hose for the hot supply). Simply turn off the supply valves at the hose connections, loosen the female connectors with a pair of adjustable pliers, remove the hoses, and tighten the female connectors of the new hoses onto the threaded male connectors of the supply lines and the back of the washer.
It's also a good idea to turn off the supply valves to the washer if you intend to travel for an extended period of time, whether the hoses have been replaced or not.
Compromised supply pipes
If you spot any type of leak in a supply pipe, even an occasional drip, it is usually a sign that the pipe will soon fail. It's impossible to foretell when exactly it will happen, especially with galvanized steel pipes, which corrode invisibly from the inside out. While you can stop a minor leak with an inexpensive repair kit, you are simply hiding the symptom instead of extending the life of the pipe.
It would be best to have at least the offending section of pipe replaced. However, you may need the entire line redone, because it's likely that the decay is not isolated to the single section of pipe. While plumbing installation services can be costly, they are less expensive and troublesome than having both plumbing and water restoration services done after a supply pipe bursts.
For more information, contact companies like Cascade Plumbing & Mechanical, LLC.