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Plumbing Safety Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Plumbing Safety Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

 

With access to how-to videos and articles for home plumbing, more and more homeowners are taking a DIY approach to minor plumbing issues to help maintain their system between routine maintenance visits. However, even small plumbing tasks can have serious consequences if you don’t take proper precautions. Getting a professional evaluation is always recommended. 

Whether you’re already learning your way around basic plumbing or planning to tackle a plumbing repair, it’s crucial to understand basic plumbing safety – including the appropriate tools and techniques to protect yourself and your system.

Take a look at these plumbing safety tips with DIY projects, as well as some best practices to keep your system safe and reduce the risk of plumbing disasters in your home.

Why Is Plumbing Safety Important?

 

The occasional plumbing problem is a fact of life. With intricate systems that are heavily used, it’s common to experience a leak or clog at one time or another. While these may seem like minor DIY problems, there are potentially serious risks to consider.

For example, chemical drain cleaners are a go-to clog solution, but they can wreak havoc on your pipes. In addition, they have harsh chemicals that can cause health problems – especially if you’re not taking proper precautions.

This isn’t the only risk, however. DIY plumbing may involve electrical wiring, power tools, gas fumes, contaminated water, and more. If you’re not exercising safety measures while performing basic fixes, you could get an electrical shock, a burn, respiratory injury, or other health problems.

Those are just the risks to you. There are additional risks to your home, such as bursts or improper repairs that cause water damage, electrical fires, or gas leaks, which are a serious fire hazard with deadly gas fumes.

Fortunately, knowing the basics of plumbing safety can help you navigate small repairs as safely as possible and understand when the job is better left to the pros.

Learn the Ins and Outs of Your Plumbing System

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDTvDMiENNU 

One of the most important aspects of plumbing safety is knowing how your system works in the first place. You don’t have to know as much as a professional plumber, but having an idea of how everything works, where important shut-off valves are, and signs of plumbing issues is crucial.

First, make sure you know where your main water supply valve is and the valves for each plumbing appliance in your home. If there’s a plumbing disaster, you may need to cut off water to that fixture or the entire water supply in your home. This way, if there’s a burst or an electrical problem, you know exactly where to go to turn the water off quickly.

In addition, you should also know how to cut power to the electrical near your appliances. Your circuit breaker should have labels to indicate which breaker controls the receptacle or fixture you want to cut power to. All you have to do is flip the lever to the “off” position. If you’re not sure which breaker is which, consult an electrician.

You should also learn what type of plumbing system you have, the pipe network’s main material (PVC, copper, galvanized steel, etc.) and how to read your water meter. This information will come in handy for repairs or if you need to bring in a professional plumber.

Stock Up on Basic Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Routine plumbing projects, no matter how minor, can expose you to hazards. You should always have personal protective equipment on hand in an emergency, which includes:

  • Face and eye protection: Safety goggles or full-face shields are essential protection for plumbing, depending on the task.
  • Thick latex gloves: Gloves for plumbing protect your hands from potential biohazards, toxic chemicals, caustic materials, or heat.
  • Slip-resistant boots: Working around water can cause slippery conditions. Plumbers always have slip-resistant, thick boots to protect them from falls and protect their feet from injury due to power tools or other hazards.
  • Head protection: Though head protection like hard hats is usually reserved for active work sites and more hazards than the average DIY job, it’s not a bad idea to invest in head protection like bump caps to protect your head during small repairs.
  • Masks or respirators: Some plumbing projects can expose you to dangerous fumes with bacteria and toxic chemicals, especially if you’re fixing a toilet drain. If you inhale these fumes, you can experience severe respiratory problems. Always wear a mask or respirator if you suspect that you’ll encounter noxious gases.

Learn the Difference Between White, Gray, and Black Water

 

If your home floods, it’s easy to assume that the water is fresh, clean, and mostly safe. However, leaks aren’t always from your clean water sources. You can have a leak that originates in the toilet or shower drain, leading to gray or black water contamination that can be dangerous. 

Here are the different types of water:

  • White water comes from the fresh water supply and is generally safe.
  • Gray water comes from sink or tub drains and may contain waste like body hair or food particles. Exercise caution.
  • Black water comes from raw sewage and can make you seriously sick. Avoid black water and leave the work to professional plumbers with appropriate training and PPE.

Conduct Regular Inspections

Plumbers always stress regular inspection of your plumbing system. While you should have an inspection done as part of your routine maintenance, you can safely and easily check for minor issues on your own.

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Check your water heater for signs of leaks or corrosion.
  • Check and clean the bottom of your dishwasher to reduce food residue.
  • Inspect exposed pipes under your sink and in your basement for leaks or damage.
  • Look inside your washing machine for mineral buildup and check connections.
  • Use boiling water or a mixture of vinegar and baking soda regularly to flush out your drains and prevent clogs.

Always Read Labels

 

If you’re using drain cleaners or machines during a plumbing repair, make sure you read all the labels thoroughly. With drain cleaners, make sure you understand the potential risks, how to use the product safely, and first aid measures if chemicals come in contact with your eyes, skin, or mucous membranes.

With power tools or machines, make sure you know how to use them correctly before you start the work. Learn your way around different buttons and settings without doing any work, so you’re comfortable with the tool when you start your repair.

Don’t Cut Blindly

If your repair or installation involves cutting your wall or floor, always make sure you know what’s on the other side. It’s easy to cut into electrical wiring, pipes, or insulation that can cause major problems, including flooding, house fires, electrocution, or other serious injuries.

Don’t Over-Tighten Fittings

 

One common mistake that many DIY enthusiasts make is over-tightening plumbing fittings. While loose fittings can cause leaks, tighter connections aren’t always better. You can end up stripping screws, breaking bolts, or warping fittings.

Getting your fittings correct is a balance. Hand tighten the fitting as far as you can, then use a wrench to add another half turn. Check the fitting for leaks. If there is a leak, add another quarter to half turn until the leak stops.

Know When You’re In Over Your Head

It’s admirable to take on DIY plumbing tasks and take ownership of your home’s appliances, but not every job is suitable for the average homeowner. Part of the wisdom of being a DIYer is knowing when something is within your scope or when you should call in a professional.

Aside from the serious safety risks, there are other concerns like:

  • Voiding your appliance warranty
  • Shortening your appliance’s lifespan
  • Poorly done repairs that create more problems
  • Denial of insurance claims from plumbing damage

Some things require a certified plumber with the tools, PPE, and skill set to tackle them, such as sewer repair.

Plumbing Safety Best Practices

Now that you know how to take on minor plumbing DIY safely, here are some tips to prevent problems with your plumbing system:

  • Avoid chemical drain cleaners that can corrode your pipes.
  • Don’t overload drains or toilets with personal hygiene products, kitchen grease, or disposable wipes.
  • Insulate your pipes in winter to protect against frozen pipes and bursts.
  • Maintain an indoor temperature of at least 55 degrees at all times.
  • Get your drains cleaned periodically to remove buildup and prevent clogs.
  • Don’t ignore odd odors, which can indicate problems like an impending leak or a cracked drain.
  • Fix minor repairs quickly, including minor problems like slow drains.

Consider Annual Maintenance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-ffcSSnHc0 

Regular inspections and repairs are essential to keep your plumbing system operating properly and reduce the risk of major problems. If you want to avoid DIY projects, the best investment you can make is annual maintenance for your plumbing system.

Routine maintenance from a professional plumber not only identifies potential problems when they’re small and easy to repair or replace, but it can extend the lifespan of your system and components. A professional plumber has the experience of spotting when there may be wear or damage that should be addressed quickly to avoid a breakdown or emergency in the future.

Keep Your Plumbing System in Top Condition

If you want to take a more hands-on approach to your plumbing maintenance, there are plenty of tasks that are suitable for DIY homeowners. However, you have to take the proper safety precautions to ensure you, your family, and your home are safe in the process.

Do you need professional plumbing maintenance or repairs? Contact us at Adeedo to schedule your appointment!

 

Do you need professional plumbing maintenance or repairs? Contact us at Adeedo to schedule your appointment!

 

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