How to Maintain the Water Pipes in Your Home
Inspire Clean Energy
Jan 12, 2017
4 min read
category: Sustainable Living
Got water coming from a pristine water source? There’s no guarantee that water will remain as pure when you finally get it out of the tap. In order to keep your water quality high, you must prioritize pipe maintenance. Corroded pipes seep copper and lead into your water supply, causing serious health hazards if not properly filtered out. Additionally, to avoid leaks and other hazards that can cost thousands to repair, you should consider incorporating these techniques to keep your pipes properly maintained.
###1. Soften the Water###
Do you live in an area with hard water?
If so, that high mineral content can shorten the lifespan of your water pipes. The minerals build up in the pipes over time, increasing the likelihood of clogging. They can also corrode pipe joints and fillings.
A great solution is investing in a whole-house water softener system1 to break down the minerals. Though they can have a higher entry cost of around $600-$1000, the long-term benefits are worth it. Combined with a reverse-osmosis system, you can get the purest water possible to all areas of your house, including the laundry room. Want to be able to save on energy costs as well? Having soft water means you wash clothes better in cold water so your water heater won’t have to work as hard.
To check whether or not you have hard water, you can read up on your municipality’s water report, which they are required to file once a year. Search for yours on the EPA database. If the density is listed as having over 140 parts per million, you have hard water.
###2. Avoid Harsh Chemical Solutions###
While it seems like a much cheaper fix than to call the plumber, relying on store-bought liquids to unclog drains can do long-term damage to your pipes.
The harsh chemicals slowly erode the pipes from the inside, eventually causing costly leaks. Consider a $80 – $150 visit from the plumber to snake the drain or buy a kit2 to do it yourself. Depending on the severity of the clog, there are also some pretty cost-effective ways to unclog drains that only require common household items. Some of these include bending a wire hanger to fish out clumps of hair or mixing equal parts of vinegar and baking soda to clear out grime.
To avoid having to resort to these methods in the first place, be smart about how you use the garbage disposal in the kitchen. Never put anything fibrous in the disposal such as potato skins or celery stalks. Also, run cold water for at least 15 seconds3 to make sure all the ground up bits get flushed down the main line.
###3. Insulate and Lower the Pressure###
If you live in a place with especially cold winters, you need to make sure that you have proper insulation on your pipes4 so they don’t burst.
Self-adhering foam tape is a cheap and easy option. Additionally, insulated caps on exterior valves are an easy way to prevent freezing from entering the interior of your pipes. A neat trick for sprinkler systems is to use compressed air to clear out any excess water in preparation for a cold snap.
When it comes to the health of your water pipes, not many people consider their water pressure to be a potential hazard. Having constant high pressure can put a huge strain on your pipes5, causing the joints, faucets, and appliance valves to all work harder so they can keep up.
You can measure what pressure your water is at with a hose bib gauge. Normal water pressure ranges from 40 to 85 psi. If your pressure is significantly higher than that, you should consider hiring a plumber to install a pressure reducer.
Taking the extra time to implement some of these techniques will only help to expand the lifetime of your water pipes so that you can have consistently clean water flowing all through your home.