3 things to know about home plumbing systems

What are the most important things homeowners should know about their plumbing system?

The plumbing system of a home is not much different than the engine in your car or truck. It will work very well as designed if it is kept up with regular maintenance. Drains that work properly in removing day-to-day waste can become slow and eventually stop up. This could possibly cause considerable damage to a home. What most homeowners don’t know is that the majority of what is washed down the drain contains a petroleum-based product, [such as]shampoos, conditioners, laundry detergents or liquid hand soaps. When these items go down the drain, the interior of the home’s drain lines develops an oily skim. This eventually builds up and catches things like food particles, hair and several other small items. 

What advice do you have for homeowners who go through a natural disaster, like Hurricane Harvey, and have issues with plumbing?

First, know where your home’s main sewer line clean out is located. With the rains we had with Harvey, even our city’s main sewer lines had drainage challenges. During or shortly after Harvey, sewer lines were backing up into the home. The less attractive but immediate way to stop this backup in the home is to open the cleanout and allow the backup to occur outside and not in the home. Also, after a storm like Harvey and your yard starts to dry out, watch for excessive moisture in spots in the yard. This may be sign that your home’s main sewer line has lifted in areas and pulled apart at areas where fittings were used.

What are the most common issues with plumbing, and can they be avoided?

Use your drains for what they were intended to be used for: waste and cleaning water. Do not use oil, paint, plaster or flour. Use an environmentally friendly drain-maintenance product as directed and keep your drain lines as clean and as free from oil-type products. Many of our areas also have hard water, [which]has a tendency to wear our fixtures out quicker than they may be designed. It may take a few years, but eventually the [equipment]will go bad and then leaks start. If you really want a full fix, install a water softener.