While you use water all year round, summer is the season when your family needs it the most. This is when friends and family visit, which means there are more flushes of the toilet and dishes to clean. You’re more active, which means you take more showers and wash more clothes. You use the garden hose more to fill swimming pools, water flowers, and irrigate the lawn.
A single unforeseen plumbing problem—from a clogged toilet to a leaky pipe to a broken water heater—could bring your fun summer activities to a grinding halt. Fortunately, with a little foresight, you can prevent these problems. Follow these summer plumbing tips so you can focus on having fun, not sorting out a plumbing emergency.
- Prevent toilet clogs by only flushing toilet paper and human waste. Keep a lined trashcan in the bathroom to discourage houseguests from flushing non-approved items. Set a plunger by each toilet just in case, and make sure each family member knows how to use it.
- Prevent kitchen sink backups by keeping cooking grease, fibrous vegetables, stringy foods, and non-food items out of the garbage disposal.
- Prepare your showers and sinks before houseguests arrive. First, install mesh screens over drains to catch hair, soap particles, and other debris. Then, soak showerheads and faucet aerators in vinegar to remove mineral deposits. Finally, fix any dripping faucets you’ve been neglecting.
- Inspect for toilet leaks. Put food coloring in the tank, wait 30 minutes, and see if any color leaks into the bowl without you flushing it.
- Check the hose connections behind the dishwasher and washing machine. If the hoses are kinked, bulging, or cracked, replace them.
- Check the water heater for signs of leaks, rust, or corrosion. Be aware that the average lifespan of a water heater is eight to 11 years. Then, turn down the water heater temperature to 120 degrees to save money and reduce scalding at the tap.
- Shut off the water when you go on summer vacation to prevent a plumbing emergency. Also, set the water heater to “low” to save money.
- Watch for soggy spots in the yard that could indicate a leak from an underground water pipe or sewer line.
- Inspect your sprinkler heads for leaks, rust, or other damage. When you turn them on for the first time, observe the path of the water to make sure you’re not inadvertently watering the street, sidewalk, or fence. Inspect garden hoses and outdoor faucets as well. If you don’t have any, consider adding one or two this summer.
- Focus on conserving water. In the summer, this means using a bucket of water to wash the car instead of an open hose; watering the lawn in the early morning when less evaporation occurs; and installing a drip system to water your flowers more efficiently.