Far too often, homeowners don’t realize there is a problem with their plumbing until a toilet backs up or a burst pipe floods the basement at 2 a.m. Dealing with an emergency situation or extensive repair is always a hassle. Scheduling an annual tune-up and inspection can ensure that problems are identified and dealt with when they are still minor, saving you time, money, and headaches in the long run.
Here are five hidden plumbing issues that are often revealed during tune-up appointments.
1. Leaky Toilets
Leaks in the toilet bowl don’t often go unnoticed since they cause water to spill out onto the floor. However, many toilets develop internal leaks between the tank and the bowl. This type of leak leads to a lot of wasted water, driving up your water bills.
There are several possible causes of internal toilet leaks. The gasket that seals the connection between the tank and bowl may be loose or the flapper that fits over the pipe in the back of the tank may not be sealed. Your plumber can figure out the exact cause. In many cases, the problem can be fixed quickly on the same day as your inspection.
2. Stuck Water Main Valves
If you ever do come home to a burst pipe, the first thing you’ll want to do is turn off the water main valve to stop the flow. During your tune-up, your plumber will check this valve to ensure it opens and closes properly. If it is stuck or hard to operate, your plumber can lubricate it for you. He or she can also ensure you know where the water main is so you can operate it in case of an emergency.
3. Mineral Deposits in Pipes
If you have hard water, mineral deposits may begin to form inside your pipes. Often, you don’t notice these deposits until they grow large enough to slow your water pressure down to a trickle. Eventually, if you don’t address them, they’ll block the flow of water completely.
Your plumber can use a special camera to determine the thickness of any mineral buildup in your pipes. If it’s not overly thick, he or she may advise you to keep your current pipes but install a water softener to remove minerals from the water as it enters your home. If the deposits are large enough to reduce your water pressure, your plumber might recommend replacing the affected portions of your pipes. You’ll still want to install a softener to protect your new pipes from suffering the same fate.
4. Clogged Sewer Lines
A complete blockage of your main sewer line causes overflowing sewage and backed up toilets. But a partial clog does not always cause these symptoms. Your plumber can send a camera down into your sewer line to detect any partial clogs before they become full clogs.
Tree roots are to blame for a large number of sewer line blockages. Tree roots grow towards moisture and nutrients, both of which are found in abundance in sewer lines. Other items like toilet paper may get stuck in the roots, contributing to the clog. Your plumber may chemically kill the roots or use a special spinning blade to cut them away. Either way, you’re better off taking care of the problem now rather than waiting until it causes a full-blown backup.
5. Slab Leaks
Basement moisture is often blamed on poorly draining soil or improperly placed gutters. But sometimes, it’s the result of a leak in the pipes that run under your home’s foundation. Known as a slab leak, this type of leak can cause extensive damage over the years. If your plumber detects it during an annual tune-up, he or she can correct it either by patching the leak with epoxy or re-routing your pipes around the leaky segment.
A plumbing tune-up will only take a few hours of your time, and it may save you from a plumbing emergency in the coming months. If you have any specific concerns or worries about your pipes and plumbing system, be sure to bring them up to your plumber during the appointment.