At some point or another we have all been in a home or other building and noticed an unsightly water stain on the ceiling – evidence of a leaky water pipe. But leaky plumbing can do worse damage that can cause ugly marks; it can cause water damage that is costly to repair. And even if the leak itself is caught before it causes much damage, it can still be costly to repair the plumbing.
The best way to protect against leaky plumbing is with an ounce of prevention. By reducing the stress on your water pipes, you are much less likely to end up with a leak – and a mess – on your hands.
Essentially, there are two main ways that you can reduce the pressure on your water pipes:
Lower Your Water Pressure
Admittedly, a nice high water pressure feels great after a long day of work when all you want to do is jump in a hot shower. But that high pressure puts stress on your pipes and will reduce their longevity. The pipe joints, valves and faucets will all have to work harder to deal with the added pressure.
If you want to know if your water pressure is too high, you can purchase a hose bib gauge for about ten dollars from your local hardware store. The pressure should be between 40 and 85 psi. If the pressure is higher than that, you should consider hiring a plumber to come in and reduce the water pressure for you by installing a pressure reducer.
Incidentally, while installing attachments such as low flow shower heads may be a great environmental choice and reduce the amount of water that you use, they don’t actually help to reduce the amount of water pressure in your pipes.
Use a Water Softener
Hard water – water with a high mineral content – can also put stress on your home’s plumbing. Minerals such as calcium and magnesium can leave deposits inside your pipes and restrict the flow of water. Just like putting your thumb in the opening of a garden hose, these deposits in your pipes can increase water pressure.
Check out our last blog and find out how you can test for hard water in your home with nothing but soap.
Additionally, these minerals can cause corrosion of the joints and fittings in your plumbing.
One of the most noticeable signs of hard water is if you notice white buildup around your faucets and shower heads. If you are still not sure whether or not you have hard water, you can contact your municipality and ask.
The only way to resolve hard water issues is to install a water softener. There are two types of water softeners – the traditional kind uses sodium to counteract the calcium and magnesium and must be installed by a licensed plumber. The second type is electronic, and since it doesn’t require opening the pipes, may be installed by the homeowner.
Plumbing leaks are something that most of us don’t like to think about and unfortunately, too many homeowners never think about them at all until they have an actual leak and costly repairs on their hands. But by doing some preventative maintenance now and reducing stress on your pipes, you can end up saving yourself a lot of headaches and hassle down the road.
Check out some of our other plumbing blogs for more tips and tricks that will save you money!