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Preventative Maintenance for Plumbing

Bathroom plumbing advise

Preventative maintenance is the process of scheduling maintenance tasks that are performed at regular intervals and supports the upkeep of assets through regular checks and inspections. Preventative maintenance or preventative maintenance for plumbing is a useful practice as it ensures crucial assets are intact and working properly.

What is best to do for maintaining existing plumbing

1. Take care of your old shut-off valves

The water shut-off valve has a vital role to cut off the water supply when you are away for a long time or have to deal with plumbing repairs, installations, and emergencies. If the knob, handle, or lever have built up rust and debris, or they have not been loosened regularly, you can come into huge trouble when a plumbing emergency arises. 

So, if you are concerned about your home water safety and your neighbour’s property, it’s paramount to ensure your stopcock works as it should. A useful tip is to turn the stopcock on and off once in a while (consider at least once per half a year). This is the way to prevent your valve getting stuck into one position and making it impossible to loosen when needed. Last but not least, change your old stopcock with a new one when you realise that its useful life ended a long time ago.

2. Maintain reasonable water pressure

Your pipes and appliances are not designed to withstand high water pressure. While high-water pressure provides you with natural massage therapy in the bathroom, the abnormal pressure shortens the life of your plumbing. 

Domestic high water pressure is connected with massive amounts of water that is flowing out of your home’s water outlets. This is water torture, drains your wallet, and causes an unhealthy issue for your pipes. Usually the result is pipe erosion and pinhole leaks, and even worse – water damage if you leave the problem unattended.

So, if you suspect excessive pressure coming out of your sink, shower, or tap, it’s worth testing your system. A water pressure gauge is a handy tool to find out if the water pressure is in a healthy range (consider 40-60 PSI). If you are not a novice in plumbing installations, prevent future plumbing headaches when you install a pressure reduction valve. However, when domestic water pressure exceeds the above values two or more times, the most reasonable action is to explain the situation to the water supply company.

Be on alert if you hear constant or occasional banging sound from your pipes, the toilet is running, faucets and taps are dripping – all these can be signs for extreme home water pressure.

3. Use the right tools to maintain your drains 

Even though a clogged toilet or sink is frustrating and an emergency problem for your family, don’t be tempted to act rashly. All harsh chemical solutions promise fast cleaning results for your drains. But a manual repair is the reliable go-to option that would prevent any issues down the road. If dirt, debris, and waste food often cause blockages, invest in a plunger and pipe wrench to address small issues. Opt for a drain snake when clogs lay deeper in the plumbing system. 

4. Maintain your bathroom appliances to prevent early replacements

Don’t use harsh detergents when you want to remove the mineral deposits from a shower head. They can leave scratches and damage the surface of your shower, sink, or toilet. To pre-empt any preventable damage, the natural way to cope with the issue is to pour a mix of hot water and vinegar in a small bowl. Then, allow the stained shower head surface to soak in the mixture for half an hour. Finally, rinse it with water and use a small brush to remove the limescale from your shower head. 

Like most things in life, shower head parts like O-ring and washers are subject to wear and tear. So, if you see any shower drips, leaks, or water sprouts everywhere, the reason could be cracked or broken watertight seals between the connections. Don’t throw your shower to the curb, though. To maintain your shower in top-notch shape, the best action is to replace the rubber washer every year. To complete the installation, you only need to have a tap washer kit.

5. Know the limits of your pipes/drain to prevent blockages

Blocked drains are inconvenient, smell bad, and happen when you least expect it. Luckily, to avoid clogs in the drainage system depends on your habits to flush down only “flushable” stuff. 

Set yourself limits and ensure you throw nothing but toilet paper because even the “flushable” (but much thicker) sanitary wipes, food waste, or eggshells can cause mountains of troubles to your plumbing system. 

If tossing hair down the drain is a habit, sooner or later, expect a massive ball of flowing rubbish to form. Be wise and never throw away cooking waste products and substances like oil, grease, milk or other liquid which sooner or later will form debris, stuck on the pipe surface and mix with other stuff.

A smart and affordable way to protect your drain is to use small metal, mesh or silicone sieves over the plugholes. Install covers on bath and shower drains to avoid hairball blockages. 

6. Maintain your plumbing in top-notch form in winter

When temperatures plummet to sub-zero degrees, pipes (and especially exposed ones) can freeze or burst. A few minutes are enough to turn any remaining water into an ice block. What is worse, frozen pipes can burst overnight. 

So, before the cold snap occurs, disconnect all drain hoses from the outside taps. Make sure you insulate your exposed pipes, those connecting the central heating system, running near an outer wall, or in unheated rooms and crawl spaces. 

7. Avoid over-tightening fittings and valves

When working on your plumbing at home, tightening the screws, valves, and the connections is often underestimated. To prevent broken bolts, stripped screws, and potential leaks, never over-tighten screws and other parts. You might feel safer if you use muscles to strengthen your cold and hot water facets, but the effect will be the opposite, leaving you with puddles of drops on your floor.

Why invest time into preventative maintenance?

Preventative maintenance is not essential to the day-to-day running of plumbing related assets, however it is crucial if you or your business is looking to reduce costs, repair time and downtime. With an efficient preventative maintenance schedule you are ensuring your assets (sinks, toilets, pipes etc) are well maintained and working efficiently leaving little room for damage.

Investing time initially to build out a preventative maintenance schedule will inevitably save you time down the line along with thousands of pounds worth of repairs. 

It is important to remember that although preventative maintenance can help to avoid costly issues, emergency maintenance may still be required. Emergency maintenance may occur when faults arise that are accidental or out of your control; this could include accidental damage to pipes or weather related issues.

Emergency maintenance is often unavoidable, however plumbers can help to keep them at bay or even reduce the number of call-outs with an effective preventative maintenance strategy. In order to keep track of both scheduled preventative maintenance and emergency repairs, businesses often opt for a CMMS or digital tracking system.

What is a Computerised Maintenance Management System? 

A CMMS, or computerised maintenance management system, is a digital solution offered to businesses as a method of tracking assets, tickets, and maintenance tasks. A Computerised Maintenance Management System enables plumbing businesses to ensure their preventative maintenance strategy is automated and updated regularly, helping to save money and time.

Simple CMMS solutions can also be implemented in homes around the world to help remind users of preventative tasks that need to be completed. 

A digital maintenance system enables plumbers and maintenance teams to ditch paper and pen or messy spreadsheets and move all tasks into one central location. With everything being stored online and in the cloud, plumbers will no longer need to worry about losing certificates, signatures and important documents.

Not only is there an obvious productivity and cost benefit, businesses who opt for a digital management system over traditional paper systems will help to reduce paper and fuel waste. 

How does a CMMS help with preventative maintenance for plumbing? 

A CMMS can be used as a digital record for all preventative maintenance tasks. A handy digital scheduler will ensure that all your essential plumbing tasks recur on the correct dates to ensure maximum efficiency. A CMMS can also be used for larger plumbing businesses with larger teams, as tickets and tasks can be distributed throughout teams.

A scheduler feature allows administrators to assign tickets to specific team members with the correct skill sets and in accordance with available working dates and times.

Preventative Maintenance for Plumbing

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