By Drain Doctor on 11/02/2016

Most of us don’t think too often about our plumbing infrastructure. It usually takes a burst pipe or a clogged drain before we pay any attention to it. Although it is always sensible to be prepared for emergencies, these tend to be expensive to repair. Emergencies by nature are unpredictable, and often the best way to deal with them is prevention.

Here are some things that you can do to maintain the health of your pipes and avoid unnecessary emergencies.

1. Reduce your water pressure

For some, high water pressure feels like a luxury. Sinks fill faster, toilets refill quickly and a high pressure shower feels great and invigorating. However, too high a pressure can cause a strain on your pipes and joints and damage some appliances. The ideal water pressure for a UK home is between 2 -4 bars (30psi-60psi). Most appliances are designed to work within these limits and having too high a water pressure may invalidate some warranties.

You can check your water pressure yourself by using a low cost pressure gauge available for a few pounds from hardware stores. If your pressure is too high, your plumber can install a pressure reducing valve. This valve has a diaphragm which absorbs the pressure of the water entering your house, causing the water flowing into your home to come in at a normal pressure. This option will cost far less than an emergency plumber visit to fix burst pipes.

2. Reduce the hardness of your water

You can check the hardness of your water by contacting your water supplier. A sign of hard water is a mineral build-up on your taps, shower heads or in appliances such as kettles.

The only way to counteract hard water is to soften it. Electronic water softeners use electric pulses to dissolve the particles. There is no need to cut the pipes to install these systems. In addition to being a viable DIY project, they do not add any sodium to your water. An electronic device is usually much less expensive than a sodium water softener, and can be just as effective at reducing hard water damage to your pipes and taps.

3. Avoid Drain Cleaning Chemicals

When you have a blocked pipe, it can be tempting to pour a chemical cleaner down the drain to clear the blockage. While this may enable the water to drain away, it is only a short term fix and can actually damage the pipes. Chemical drain cleaners often don’t remove the entire clog. In such cases, the drain will clog back up relatively quickly. Harsh chemicals can also erode your pipes each time they are used.

The best alternative is to use a snake. Your plumber will be happy to snake your drains for you, or you can buy a domestic snake from a DIY shop and do the job yourself. The best way to avoid clogs is to be careful what you put down the sink in the first place. Grease may be a liquid when it is poured down the drain, but it will solidify and build up on the inside of your pipes. Pour grease into a container and dispose of it with your rubbish. Prevent food from entering your drains by fixing a screen over the sink outlet. Also, showers can clog up with the accumulation of hair and soap. You can use screens to avoid these issues as well.

4. Regularly Check Your Outside Drain Pipes

The main sewer line is something that homeowners often overlook. Your drains take the waste from your house to the sewers. Over time, plant roots can penetrate your drains, which eventually results in a blockage. A regular video inspection is the most effective way to ensure that your pipes have not been breached. If they have, your plumber can easily remove the intrusion with a hydro-jet, or recommend other options. If you have a septic tank, you should have it cleaned out every five years or so rather than wait until it becomes blocked.

You can do many of these jobs yourself. If you prefer to use a professional plumber, consider: the cost of performing most small maintenance tasks will be less than the cost of repairing a leaking pipe. Leaking pipes carry with them a myriad of related problems, each of which has its own cost in money and convenience. Make routine maintenance of your plumbing part of your household routine. That way you will not be caught off-guard with a plumbing emergency, and will enjoy healthy plumbing for a long time.