Updated January 2, 2019 . AmFam Team
A leaky pipe or a clogged sewer drain is more than just an annoying problem that disrupts your daily activities — they can cause expensive leaks, floods or other water damage. Even the smallest clogs or leaks can do plenty of harm! Avoid the trouble and prevent those problems with these plumbing and drain protection tips.
Prevent a leak from happening in your home and avoid an expensive cleanup by using these tips to keep your home’s plumbing in good condition:
Keep your pipes warm. Fixing a frozen pipe isn’t just about warming it back up and getting the water moving again. When a pipe freezes, pressure builds within the pipe and can eventually burst the pipe at its weakest point. In addition to insulating your pipes with insulation sleeves, there are lots of other ways to prevent your pipes from freezing this winter.
Check your appliances’ water lines. Your refrigerator, washing machine and dishwasher all have water lines that wear out over time. Check yours at least once a year to make sure they’re in good shape. Check around them and under your appliances to make sure there aren’t any puddles or signs of moisture, either. If you do notice any moisture, leaks or damage, call a professional and have the line replaced immediately.
Watch your water bill. If you’ve lived in your home for a while, you probably have a good idea of what your water bill is each month. So if you notice the charges are a little bit higher next month and you can’t attribute them to anything, check your pipes to make sure a slow leak isn’t slowly causing damage and eating away at your bank account.
Locate your main water shut-off valve. Knowing where your main water shutoff valve is can be crucial to preventing serious damage during a leak. Find it, test it and don’t be afraid to turn it off when you see water pooling on your floor or in your walls.
Buy a water sensor. Getting a smart home water leak detector can help you stop a leak right when it starts. These sensors can send an alert to your phone or device when they sense a water leak from your sink, washing machine, refrigerator or other appliance. And adding smart home tools like a leak detector could help you qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance, too.
See a leak? Fix a leak. No matter how small or inconsequential a leak might seem, call a professional and fix it right away. Leaving a leak not only exposes your pipes to further damage, but it puts your walls, floors and home altogether at risk, too.
Most drain clogs are totally preventable — but when they aren’t prevented and are ignored, they can wreak havoc on your home. Here’s how you can make sure your drains stay functional:
Plant away from water and sewer lines. Tree roots can grow in, around and through water and sewer lines, disrupting flow and causing leaks. If you plant a tree in your yard, do yourself and any future families who purchase your home a favor by making sure its roots won’t come near your water lines.
Aside from preventing clogs, you should avoid planting near electrical and cable utilities, too. Always make sure you’re planting in a safe area before doing so.
Know where your water lines are and ask the company or retailer you’re purchasing your tree from for recommendations on types of trees and where it’s best to plant them. Don’t forget to ask your American Family Insurance agent about sewer and water line coverage, too.
Don’t dispose of grease in your sink. Once you’ve finished cooking bacon, steak or any other food that will leave residual grease in the pan, collect it in a non-recyclable container and throw it away. Don’t pour it down the drain! Once it hardens, it can cause a tough-to-break clog in your pipes and stop water and other scraps from being properly disposed.
Not coffee grounds, either. Empty the grounds from your coffeemaker into the garbage, not down your garbage disposal. Especially if they’re combined with grease, coffee grounds are one of the most common drain clogs in homes. If you have a garden, consider using those spent grounds as compost instead.
Run some hot water after using your sink. After using your garbage disposal, run some hot water down the drain to help soften any solids that might later clog your drain.
Only flush waste and toilet paper. A clogged toilet can be the result of many things — and they’re commonly caused by items flushed that aren’t disposable or degradable. Whether it’s hygiene products, wrappers, tissues or anything but toilet paper or waste, throw it in the trash instead.
Avoid using drain-cleaning chemicals. While they’re great in a pinch, drain-cleaning chemicals aren’t great for the environment and they can weaken your pipes. Instead, opt for a plunger or drain snake to help dislodge stubborn clogs.
Want more helpful tips for maintaining your home? Our home maintenance hub has a number of tips and resources to help you keep your home in good shape all year long. Check it out!
Knowing how to prevent expensive repairs in your home is just the start — but American Family can make sure you’re protected from the unexpected with homeowners insurance built just for you — including coverage like Hidden Water Damage, which helps cover damage caused by a leak you can't see. Get in touch with your agent today (Opens in a new tab) to learn more.