You can prevent flooding through proper maintenance of your plumbing system. However, you'll need to be aware of potential flooding issues and be vigilant in solving the problems.
Some maintenance tasks can be done by the average homeowner, while others require the services of a plumbing professional. Here are a few signs of plumbing failure to watch out for.
How to Spot Signs of Potential Supply
Supply pipes are under pressure to deliver water to your entire home, so when a supply pipe ruptures, the water will continue to flow unimpeded until a local or main supply valve is shut off. Unfortunately, this rupture could occur when the house is empty and flood the lower levels of your home.
This problem is mostly associated with older galvanized steel pipe, although it can occur in poorly installed copper or CPVC (plastic) pipe. Galvanized pipe will often not reveal any weak areas until a drip or light spray spontaneously appears at some point along the supply line.
This drip is often the only sign of imminent failure at the pipe itself, because the inner surface of galvanized steel pipe corrodes first and eventually spreads to the outer surface and causes a leak to occur. Corrosion of galvanized pipe is often more readily apparent in the quality and pressure of your water.
As corrosion builds inside a supply pipe, the inner surface narrows and reduces water pressure to faucets and other components. Drinking water may be tinted brown with an unpleasant taste. Look inside your toilet tank to find an indication of the severity of corrosion, because water sits inside the tank for extended periods. A brown-stained tank means that your galvanized pipes are in danger of eventual failure and should be replaced.
Leaks in copper or CPVC supply lines will usually occur at connections and may initially appear as a minor drip. While the leak may never progress beyond that point, it's a good idea to have the connection fitting replaced.
How to Keep Supply Pipes From Freezing
If your supply lines are exposed to sub-freezing temperatures, they are in danger of freezing and bursting open, creating an unwanted indoor ice rink. Water expands as it freezes, and the pressurized water in supply pipes has nowhere to go as it expands but through the side of a pipe.
Depending on the severity of the temperature, you can choose between passive and active methods of preventing pipe freezing. Passive actions include wrapping your pipes with either paper-backed fiberglass insulation that is secured by paper tape or foam rubber insulation tubes that are split down the center.
If your pipes are exposed to very cold temperatures, you will need a more active approach (and a nearby power outlet). You can choose between wrapping the pipes with pipe heating tape or cables that provide direct heat, or heat the room itself with a thermostatically controlled outlet adapter that will power a portable heater only when the room temperature approaches the freezing point.
How to Minimize the Risk of Washer
Unfortunately, washer hoses don't usually give any indication of possible failure until it happens. However, you can reduce the risk by changing your hoses every three to five years and turning off the supply valves to the hoses when you intend to be away from your home for an extended period.
How to keep Your Hot Water Tank From Flooding Your Home
It's a good idea to drain your hot water tank on a yearly basis to remove sediment buildup that can eventually lead to the rupture of the bottom of the tank. Turn off the cold water supply valve at the top of the tank, and turn on hot water faucets inside the home to drain as much as possible. Then hook a garden hose to the drain outlet near the bottom of the tank.
However, tanks have a limited life span, and if yours is celebrating a decade of service, you're on borrowed time. Contact a plumbing professional to discuss replacement options. If you're in the Columbia, South Carolina, area, that plumbing professional should be Aero Plumbing for quality service at fair prices.