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It’s Simply Plumbing

Plumbing’s primary premise is simple:  Direct fluids where you want them to go, when you want them to go there, and keep them from showing up where they’re not desired.  For the next few blog posts we are going to look at the various components of your plumbing that make your home’s plumbing world work.  We’ll also point out some helpful tips on how you can keep it doing what you want it to.

Let’s start with pipes.  If water is the lifeblood of your plumbing, then the vessels are your pipes.  You have two kinds: those that bring water in to your house (water lines) and those that take it away (drain lines).  The majority of newer homes’ water lines are made of copper or pex (a polyethylene material).  In older homes you may also find galvanized steel.  In the case of drains, they are usually made of PVC in newer homes and of copper or steel in older homes.

The most common problems with pipes are leaks.  Leaks usually occur due to corrosion, punctures, or a failure at a joint where two sections of pipe connect.  Corrosion is most often seen in aging metal pipes.  It is best to replace corroded pipe with a non-metallic piping material.  A typical puncture is when someone drives a screw, nail or drill bit through a wall without considering the location of a pipe inside the wall.  If it happens to be a water line then it is under pressure and will not stop spraying water until the water is shut off to that line. That would be a good reason to know where your main water shut-off valve is in your home (hint, hint).  A punctured drain line will only leak when water is run down that drain, so the leak may appear somewhat sporadically.  Leaks at pipe joints are typically caused due to poor plumbing workmanship or an incorrect use of plumbing fittings.

While there is not a lot of preventative maintenance to be done to your pipes, the best way to head off major problems is by observing them while they are still small.  An occasional glance at pipes under your sinks or when you are around exposed pipes in your basement or crawlspace will inform you of obvious leak issues.  If no actual water is observed under or on a pipe, look for any type of buildup that may be occurring on the outside of your pipes.  External buildup can be an indicator of minerals collecting from water leaking through a water line or it could be corroding through.  In the case of drain lines, darker colored areas near pipe joints may indicate waste leaks coming through.  If you see any of these indicators it is best to get them repaired right away. If you need any help, you know who to call, right?

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