Werner Plumbing & Heating, Inc.

Maintenance Tips

Plumbing Maintenance TIPS

Faucets and Sinks

  • Check faucets for drips or leaks; even small drips or leaks can waste thousands of gallons of water.  Be sure to check under sinks for moisture which may indicate a small leak by looking inside of cabinets with a flashlight.  Check to make sure the traps and supply tubes are not leaking and if you have a garbage disposal and/or dishwasher make sure all connections are tight and leak free.  Always make repairs to leaky faucets and/or plumbing to save water and to avoid water damage to your fixture, cabinetry and pipes.
  • Remove and clean your faucet aerators and shower heads annually to ensure even flow of water.  To remove mineral deposits unscrew and soak in vinegar or fill a plastic baggie with vinegar; place it over the showerhead and hold in place with a rubber band.  Soak overnight then remove and gently scrub with a soft bristle brush such as on old toothbrush.

Toilets

  • Toilet leaks can be wasteful and expensive.  Check your toilet for leaks by adding about 6 drops of food coloring to the toilet tank.  If the toilet is leaking color will appear in the toilet bowl water within 30 minutes; this means water is seeping through from the tank and you should replace the tank ball or flapper.
    Make sure toilets flush properly; if the handle must be held down for a thorough flush or jiggled to stop the water from running you may need to replace worn tank parts.  Replacement parts are inexpensive you will notice a savings in water consumption.
  • Inspect the tank and bowl for cracks or leaks.  Check around the base of the toilet for signs of water damage.

Clogs

  • Pipes clog because of a gradual buildup of grease, hair, soap, or food particles.  All it takes is a houseful of guests to create a major overload situation and create a clogged drain.  Follow these tips to avoid a plumbing disaster.

Kitchen

  • Avoid pouring fats or cooking oils down the drain because liquid fats solidify in the cold pipes and create clogs.
  • Never put hard to grind, stringy, fibrous waste in the garbage disposal.  The disposal can’t sufficiently grind poultry skins, carrots, celery, banana peels etc.; they will clog your sink drain.
  • Turn the garbage disposal on prior to adding food waste.  Run cold water down the drain for about 15 seconds before and after using the garbage disposal in order to flush waste down the main drain.

Bathroom

  • To prevent clogs, fit all your tubs and shower drains with a strainer that catches hair and soap chips and clean the strainer regularly.
  • Provide a trash bin in the bathroom so the toilet is not used as a garbage can.  Never flush cotton swabs, cotton balls, hair, facial scrub pads, diapers, sanitary products or similar items down the toilet.  These items ill not easily dissolve and are responsible for most clogs.
  • Avoid using caustic liquid drain openers (like Drano or Liquid Plumber) on a drain that is completely clogged.  The caustic ingredients are trapped in your pipes and it can severely damage them.  If you can’t snake the drain yourself, contact a professional to do so.

Water Heater

  • Check the date of the water heater; the first four numbers of the serial number on the water heater are the month and year it was made.  Any water heater over 15 years old is a candidate for replacement, newer water heaters are more energy efficient.
  • Periodically inspect your water heater looking for leaks or signs of rust on the water tank.  Periodically inspect the water heater burner.  The flame under the heater should appear blue with yellow tips.  If it is mostly yellow, or if it is sooty in the burner compartment, your flue may be clogged, which is a dangerous situation.  Contact a professional to check it out.
  • Check the temperature setting on the water heater; it should be set no higher than 120 degrees to prevent scalding, reduce energy usage and optimal performance
  • Every few months drain several gallons from the water heater by connecting a hose to the faucet and directing water into a nearby drain.  Over time sediment builds up at the bottom of the heater; draining several gallons could help remove the sediment which can hamper the performance, efficiency and shorten the life span of the water heater. 
  • Do not store flammables near the water heater or furnace.

Miscellaneous

  • Pour a gallon of water into infrequently used drains (including floor drains) to fill the trap and prevent odors from entering the house.  Slow floor drains should be snaked to ensure they will carry away water quickly.
  • Check exposed pipes under sinks, in basement or crawl space for signs of leaks.
  • If your home has a sump pump, make sure it operates properly by pouring a few buckets of water into the sump pit.  The pump should quickly turn on, discharge the water then shut off without any problems.
  • Inspect for slow leaks in your home by taking a reading on your water meter before bedtime.  The next morning, without using any water overnight, take another reading.  If the reading has changed you may have a leak that should be repaired.
  • Install a flood alarm.  Like a smoke alarm, a flood alarm is a battery-operated device that sounds an alarm when it comes in contact with water; it alerts you to potential flooding or leaks.


Winterizing

  • Disconnect outside water hoses.  If left connected, water in the hoses can freeze and expand causing faucets and connecting pips inside your home to freeze and break
  • Make sure outside faucets are not dripping or leaking; make necessary repairs before freezing temperatures arrive.  Be aware that when pipes freeze, water pressure builds causing cracks; whether the pipe is made of plastic, steel or copper.  Even a small crack can result in 250 gallons of water in a single day.
  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as garages or crawl spaces.  Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing.
  • When leaving home for extended periods, shut off the main water valve or pump and drain the system by opening faucets at the highest and lowest points of the house.  Make sure the heat is left on and set no lower the 55 degrees.


Caution:  These tips are intended for homes that will be occupied throughout the winter months.  Many additional steps should be taken to winterize vacation properties that will be abandoned or left unattended for weeks or months at a time.  Seek professional help for winterizing such homes and properties.

Heating Maintenance TIPS

Just like your car, your home heating system needs routine maintenance to keep it running at its best.  Without regular servicing, heating and cooling systems waste energy and are more likely to break down; but with proper attention they can keep you comfortable year-round!

Below are some basic tips to keep your system running efficiently; however they are not designed to replace annual servicing by a qualified certified technician.

Maintenance Scheduling

  • Schedule a maintenance service call before the heating season starts. If there are any problems with your system, it’s better to find out before it’s freezing outside! Do the same for your cooling system before sweltering season begins. 

Filters 
Replace your heating and cooling air filters every month that they’re in use. Operating your system with old, dirty filters means energy is wasted and your system may even be damaged. While you’re at it, check and clean the filters in your home’s air cleaners and humidifiers.

 

System Checks

  • If you have a steam system, check the shut-off valve for leaks.
  • Bleed hot water system radiators at least once a year.
  • Don’t keep clutter near your furnace. It’s a fire hazard, and may keep your system from operating efficiently.
  • To make sure you’re getting the most out of your heating system, keep the heating registers and vents throughout the house free of dust, dirt, and pet hair by vacuuming them at least once a year.
  • Listen for odd sounds when your heating or cooling system kicks in. If you hear anything unusual, get in touch with your service professional so you can head off problems before they become serious.
  • In winter months, set your ceiling fan at its slowest speed and reverse it in order to gently push warm air down from the ceiling without generating a breeze.
  • If you have a forced air heating system check your furnace’s blower compartment and blower coils. Vacuum them if you see dirt and dust there. You should also check fan belt tension, and lubricate fan and motor bearings.

Thermostats

  • While thermostats rarely fail outright, they can degrade over time as mechanical parts stick or lose their calibration.  Older units will send faulty signals if they have been knocked out of level or have dirty switches.  To calibrate an older unit, use a wrench to adjust the nut on the back of the mercury switch until it turns the system on and, using a room thermometer, set it to the correct temperature.  Modern electronic thermostats are sealed at the factory to keep out dust rarely need adjusting.  However, whether your thermostat is old or new, the hole where the wire comes through the wall needs to be caulked, or a draft could trick the thermostat into thinking the room is warmer or colder than it really is.

Humidifiers

  • A neglected in-duct humidifier can breed mildew and bacteria, not to mention add too much moisture to a house.  A common mistake with humidifiers is leaving them on after the heating season ends.  Don’t forget to pull the plug, shut the water valve, and drain the unit.
  • Make sure the evaporator pad is clean at the start of the heating season.
  • Inspect and clean the drain hose and remove any built up of scale and deposits.
  • If humidifier is a bypass type humidifier, the damper must be opened for proper airflow through the unit.
  • To test the system, turn the thermostat for your furnace up.  Let the furnace cycle with the blower running; turn the humidistat control all the way up and listen for a click from the humidifier.  A small constant stream of water should appear at the drain assembly after approximately one or two minutes.  If no water is present, consult your owners manual for screen and orifice locations which may be plugged not allowing the water to flow.
  • Follow outdoor conditions for proper settings of the humidistat.  PLEASE NOTE:  In severe cold temperatures the humidifier will actually be set to run less due to increase furnace cycling.