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And Away Go Troubles Down the Drain

4 Ways to Take Better Care of Your Fresh Water Pipes

Water Pipes
When it comes to plumbing care, drains and sewer lines tend to get most of the attention. While it's important to take steps to prevent blocked drains and sewage backups, your fresh water pipes also deserve some attention.

If you care for your pipes properly and know the signs of impending problems, you can avoid issues like mineral buildup, reduced water pressure, and large leaks. On that note, here are four primary ways to care for your fresh water pipes.

1. Install a Water Softener
If you have hard water - and many people do - that means your water contains a large proportion of dissolved magnesium and calcium. These minerals slowly settle out of the water and anneal to the insides of your pipes. Over time, the layer of mineral buildup inside of the pipe grows thicker and thicker.

Eventually, the buildup can start constricting the flow of water - reducing the force with which your water comes out of the tap. The best way to prevent mineral buildup is to have a plumber install a water softener in your home. Such a device removes the calcium and magnesium from your water before the water flows through your home's pipes.

Some people put off installing a water softener for financial reasons, but in the long run, it's a lot cheaper to install a water softener than to re-pipe your home due to blocked fresh water pipes.

2. Keep an Eye on the Pressure
If water flows through your pipes at too high of a pressure, the increased pressure can make leaks and broken pipes more likely. The increased pressure also makes valves work harder so you're more likely to deal with stuck or broken valves.

Ideally, your water pressure should hover somewhere between 40 and 85 PSI. You can measure the pressure by attaching a pressure gauge to your hose bib - available from a local hardware store.
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If the hose bib gauge registers a pressure greater than 85 PSI, then consider having a plumber add a pressure reducer to your system. This type of device consists of a tank that fills with water, and then releases that water at a lower pressure into your fresh water pipes.

3. Prevent Frozen Pipes
One of the biggest sources of damage to fresh water pipes is freezing temperatures. If a pipe freezes, the water inside it expands, which puts increased pressure on the sides of the pipe. This increased pressure can cause the pipe to burst or develop a small leak.

Here are a few tips to keep your pipes from freezing:
  • Make sure each pipe is wrapped with insulation.
  • Keep cabinet doors open to expose pipes running along exterior kitchen walls.
  • When temperatures drop very low, leave taps on just a tiny bit to keep water flowing through the system. 
  • If a pipe does freeze, then thaw it out by running a blow dryer on it. For pipes that repeatedly freeze, consider having your plumber install heat tape, which will surround the pipe and keep it warmer.
4. Watch for Signs of Small Leaks
Another important part of fresh water pipe care is detecting problems when they are still minor. Homeowners often overlook small leaks if they don't cause obvious puddles. However, if you notice wet spots on a wall or floor, an unexplained musty odor, or an otherwise unexplained increase in your water bills, then you might have a small leak.

Have the leak repaired now while your plumber can simply replace a piece of the pipe - rather than waiting until the leak becomes more serious.

Follow the advice above, and your fresh water pipes will thank you with fewer leaks and stronger water pressure. If you do notice anything amiss with your plumbing, contact Roto-Rooter to schedule an appointment. We offer preventative maintenance and emergency service.