The summer months are all about trips to the beach, dancing through the sprinklers, running around on the soccer field, and staying up late making sticky marshmallows while watching fireworks.
What do all those lovely events have in common? They’re all messy, and they all require showers, hand-washing, and a little-more-than-average use of the hose. In the summer months, the pools get filled, the hoses are on full blast, and sticky-hot days lead to longer, colder showers.
But as fun as these summer moments are, they can negatively impact your plumbing, especially if you’re not careful. If you want to avoid a plumbing disaster this summer, here are some expert tips and little-known things to look out for.
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Pay Attention to Your Disposal
“Not everything that goes in the garbage disposal is made equal,” says Bailey Carson, Home Care Expert at Angi (formerly Angie’s List). “Spring and summer produce can block up the disposal or wrap around the blades. This is on top of any unpleasant gasses and odors caused by grease, fat, and oils that are often dumped down the drain.”
One way to make sure you don’t run into problems is to frequently check your disposal and run cold water to break up and move any stranded chunks. If the smell is a problem, you can slice a lemon and turn on the disposal. The lemon not only adds a fresh scent to the kitchen, but its acidic properties can actually help to break down any leftover scraps.
If you want to take things a step further, you can clean your drain with a few natural products. Mark Dawson, COO of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, shares some thoughts. “Pour ½ a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup of vinegar,” he says, “You’ll notice that the mixture of these two ingredients will result in a chemical reaction that will help clear your drains and dissolve any clog or residue that may be in the drains. After 10-15 minutes, slowly and carefully pour hot water to clear out any lingering residue. If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, swap it out for lemon juice, as the acidity of lemons can have a similar effect.”
02 of 05
Inspect for Leaks
Most people know to check the pipes in the winter to prevent freezing, but did you know that leaks can happen in summer, too?
“The ground under and around your home goes through constant expansion and contraction to correlate with the moisture levels in the dirt,” says Mike Mushinski, President of Bluefrog Plumbing & Drain. “The transition between the winter months, rainy months, and then the dry season can cause a great deal of movement. Testing your system for leaks can catch leaks in their early stages [and] before they cause any damage.”
Every summer, homeowners should investigate all pipes and hoses (even washing machine hoses) as well as turn valves on and off to ensure everything is working as it should be.
The same goes for water heaters. Because your hot water isn’t being used as much in warmer temperatures, it’s an even better time to drain and check to see if any maintenance needs to happen before the time when you need it the most.
03 of 05
Check the Pressure & Humidity
Water pressure can impact your entire home—especially if you’re thinking about going on vacation and not using your toilets, showers, or sinks as often as normal.
Monitoring your pressure levels is critical. You can do this by purchasing a pressure gauge, Carson says, or by hiring a plumber to assess for you. Either way, monitoring is an important step to ensure the safety of your home.
And while you’re monitoring the pressure, it’s also important to check humidity levels (especially if you are in an area where moisture is often in the air). And especially if you live in a home with an attic or basement.
“During the summer, a combination of the heat and humidity can make these areas very damp and stuffy,” says Arnold Long, General Operations Manager at Mr. Blue Plumbing. “Not only is this uncomfortable, but it makes your attic and basement areas more favorable to the growth of molds and mildews.” In order to combat this, Long suggests installing a dehumidifier and checking in on the space(s) often.
04 of 05
Conduct Annual Sewer Maintenance
Depending on where you live and how old your home is, your sewer line may be built out of clay tile and need annual maintenance to prevent any issues and/or backup. “The most common cause of sewer back-ups is tree roots growing into the underground sewer pipe and causing a block, but there may be other debris that can block the line,” says Bill Samuel of Blue Ladder Development, “Getting your main sewer line rodded out each summer will prevent any build up in the line that would create a backup into your home.”
If you have a cleanout in your front yard (a cleanout is pipes that provide access to your main sewer line that are located outside and in front or back yard), oftentimes your local community has a service that can conduct this for free. It’s always a good idea to inquire and take the necessary steps to avoid a potential disaster.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Assess Sprinklers & Sump Pump
Finally, as you enjoy the summer heat and turn those sprinklers on, be sure to inspect them! During warmer months and seasons of heavier mowing, you may have a nicked sprinkler. This can lead to leaks, Mushinski says, which will not only cost you more money but you’ll potentially kill your grass or get in trouble with locations that have water usage restrictions.
While you’re checking the sprinklers, Mushinski also advises homeowners to take a peek at the sump pump, too. Summer is storm season for many places and trust and believe—you’ll want to avoid flooding your basement at all costs.
Preparing your home for summer may be the last thing on your list, but it shouldn't be! If you take the time to keep these plumber tips top-of-mind, you can prevent unneeded hassles and accidents and truly enjoy the sunny months.