It’s springtime again, and we all know what that means.  It’s time to get started on spring cleaning projects.  Did you know that your plumbing needs some spring cleaning, too?

The plumbing in your home gets heavy use all year, and undetected leaks can cause a great deal of damage in your home.  Maintaining your plumbing in top condition will ensure that it can keep working for you well into the future.

Remember, you don’t have to complete your plumbing spring cleaning in one day.   Just work your way through the list until each task is complete.

Here are nine tips for you to follow for a thorough plumbing spring cleaning:


1. Check all toilets for leaks.

Toilet leaks can waste a lot of water, and parts in the tank need regular replacement.  To check your toilet for leaks, put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank.  Wait half an hour or so and check the water in the toilet bowl.  If the water changes color, the toilet is leaking and needs repair.

You’ll need to replace parts in the tank if you have to jiggle the toilet handle or hold it down for a complete flush.  Toilets should flush smoothly with just one push of the handle.


2. Drain the water heater.

Your water heater needs draining every year.  Sediment builds up inside that can corrode pipes and shorten the life of your unit.  You can drain the water heater yourself, or it can be done by a professional if you don’t want to tackle the job on your own.

After draining the water heater, check that the temperature is set to no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding.  Make sure the area around your water heater is clear of any flammable items.

The average lifespan of a water heater is 8-10 years, and they lose efficiency as they age.  If you’re not sure of your unit’s age, check the serial number’s first four digits.  Those numbers indicate the month and year the water heater was made.  All water heaters will eventually need replacement.

You’ll need to replace a water heater that’s fifteen years or older.  In Arizona, water heaters usually need replacement much sooner than that due to the water’s high mineral content.   There are newer, more energy-efficient models available that will save you money on your utility bills.


3. Check all drains.

Bathroom sink drains collect hair and debris and need a regular cleanout.  Remove the drain stoppers and wipe them clean.  If you’re standing in several inches of water when you shower, you have a clogged drain. Once you unclog it, install a strainer to prevent future backups.

We put a lot of food into kitchen sinks with cooking and cleaning up.  Check that your kitchen drain strainer fits correctly to prevent food from clogging the drain.  Clean the traps under all sinks in the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room.

You may have sinks in your home that you rarely use, but they still need attention. Flush out infrequently used drains by pouring a gallon of water into each one.  This flushing prevents unpleasant smells from leaking into your home.  Snake all slow drains, or have a professional do it for you to avoid future problems.


4. Check hoses for the washing machine, dishwasher, and ice maker.

Hose leaks can cause a lot of water damage, as they’re not always easily visible.  Check all the hoses connecting your appliances to the water supply.  They should be in good condition.  Any hoses that look cracked or worn can leak and need replacement.  Place a wire trap over the hose end that drains water from the washer to prevent clogging.

You probably do quite a few loads of laundry throughout the year, so your washing machine needs a yearly cleaning.  Run the machine empty to clean it.


5. Check all exposed pipes.

Slow, undetected pipe leaks under sinks can cause significant water damage.  To check for leaks, run the water at full force in each sink and watch the pipes to see if any water drips out.  Then turn off the taps and see if the faucets leak.  If they do or the whole hardware unit moves, the washers probably need replacement.

Pull-down faucets have become popular kitchen fixtures.  If you have this type of faucet, check that the hose is in good condition and not worn or frayed.  These hoses get a great deal of use and can fray and split, causing leaks.

We tend to neglect the water supply valves under sinks, but they can eventually get stuck in place.  Turn the valves under each sink a few times in each direction to ensure they move freely.


6. Clean the garbage disposal.

Garbage disposals get a tough daily workout and need cleaning.  Clean your disposal by filling your kitchen sink with warm water and dishwashing soap.  Then remove the sink stopper and run the garbage disposal as the water drains.  Your garbage disposal should now be fresh-smelling and clean.

Put some items in the trash bin rather than the disposal unit.  To ensure your garbage disposal remains functioning well, never use it to dispose of grease, fat, bones, fruit pits, or fibrous foods.


7. Clean showerheads and faucets.

Mineral deposits can clog the holes on shower fixtures and affect the water flow.  Eliminate mineral buildup on your showerheads and faucets by soaking them in vinegar overnight and then scrubbing them with a small brush.  The deposits should easily wash off.  You can also use commercial cleaners designed to remove mineral buildup for this task.



8. Check outdoor faucets and sprinklers.

Neglected outdoor faucets can leak for months without anyone noticing.  Check the outdoor faucets and hose bibs around your home for drips or leaks.  In cold weather, pipes can freeze and crack.  Cracked pipes need replacement.

Sprinkler systems also need attention, so check yours for leaks.  Aim all sprinkler heads correctly so that they’re not spraying water on the walls of your home or sidewalks.  Wasted water costs money and can stain or damage your home’s walls.  If your yard has a drip irrigation system, check the timers and reset them if necessary.

Crawl spaces can be a problem area in that they can hide water leaks.  If your home has a crawl space, check to see that it’s dry and water hasn’t pooled there.

Spring is an ideal time for planting, but be aware of underground plumbing lines if you’re planting any new trees.  Unusual wet spots in your yard may indicate a plumbing leak.  Call a professional immediately to check the situation.


9. Clean out all gutters.

Clean leaves out of all your home’s gutters and check them for damage. Debris in the gutters can cause water to back up and overflow onto the walls of your home.  Wet walls can eventually cause structural damage to your home.


Next Steps

Congratulations, you’ve now completed the essential tasks of plumbing spring cleaning.  Address any plumbing problems you’ve found while working through this list right away.  Plumbing problems left untreated can cause severe damage to your home.

The experienced, honest professionals at family-owned Donley AC & Plumbing are here to help with all your plumbing needs.  The Donley team has a continuing legacy of caring, integrity, and outstanding customer service.

Donley AC & Plumbing has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and has been honored twice with its Ethics Award.

Call now for immediate service at 602-483-6868.