Your Guide to Plumbing Maintenance and When to Hire a Professional

Your Guide to Plumbing Maintenance and When to Hire a Professional

A properly functioning plumbing system is essential for any home. From supplying clean water to removing waste, plumbing is vital for daily life. However, plumbing issues can arise unexpectedly and disrupt households when pipes leak, drains clog, or fixtures fail. Being proactive about plumbing care can prevent many problems, but there are times when calling a professional plumber is necessary.

Understanding Your Plumbing System

Before diving into maintenance and repairs, it helps to understand the key components of home plumbing systems:

  • Supply lines: Supply lines carry pressurized potable water throughout homes. This includes main water lines from municipal connections, and interior lines to fixtures and appliances, valves, and other delivery components. Proper water pressure, leak-free joints, and corrosion resistance are crucial for supply plumbing.
  • Drain lines: Drain lines remove wastewater and sewage from homes. Kitchen sinks, bathtubs and showers, toilets, washing machines, floor drains, and more tie into drain lines that route waste safely into the sewer or septic systems. Clogs can easily disrupt drain lines.
  • Vents: Plumbing vents allow air pressure equalization to facilitate effective drain flows and trap seal retention. Vent blockages can allow sewer gas intrusion or drain flow issues.

Gaining familiarity with how these systems work together helps inform maintenance and potential upgrades.

Regular Maintenance is Key

Just like your car needs regular oil changes and tune-ups, your plumbing system benefits from proactive maintenance. Here are some essential tasks to include in your routine:

  • Clean drains: Drain cleaning helps prevent clogged and slow drains. Using enzymatic cleaners monthly and snaking problem drains can remove built-up gunk, hair, and soap scum before major obstructions form.
  • Inspect and clean fixtures: Check sink sprayers, faucet aerators, and showerheads every 3-6 months and remove mineral buildup that can restrict water flow. Confirm toilets flush properly and refill valves shut off completely.
  • Test sump pumps: Periodically fill sump pits to ensure pumps turn on at appropriate levels and transport water away properly through discharge pipes. Faulty sump pumps can fail to prevent basement flooding.
  • Flush water heater: Annual water heater flushing through the drain valve removes sediment that can accumulate at the base of tanks over time. This preserves heating efficiency and longevity.
  • Inspect pipes for leaks: Check exposed water supply pipes, drain lines, valves, and connections for drips or moisture at least yearly. Catching leaks early prevents water damage and mold risks down the line. Tracking water bills for unusually high use also helps identify hard-to-see leaks.

When to Hire a Plumber

While regular maintenance can prevent many plumbing problems, some issues warrant calling in a professional rather than attempting homemade fixes. Here are some red flags indicating when to hire a plumber:

Major leaks

Small leaks from loose pipe fittings or worn washers may be DIY-friendly repairs. However, significant leaks causing extensive water damage or flooding require professional attention. The longer major leaks flow, the more saturated adjacent materials become. This can spur mold growth and structural issues if left unchecked.

Clogged drains that won’t budge

Tough clogs that persist after chemical drain treatments and manual snaking typically require a plumber’s powered auger to clear fully. Leaving clogs intact can overflow drains, damage pipes, and present health hazards if sewage backs up.

No hot water

A sudden loss of hot water suggests that your water heater needs attention. Before attempting repairs, have a professional diagnose whether the issue stems from faulty control valves, heating elements, thermostats, sediment buildup, or other components. Improper repairs can be dangerous with gas-powered units.

Low water pressure

Low water pressure in homes usually results from issues within main lines or mechanical components like wells, pumps, valves, and regulators. Pinpointing and correcting flow problems requires an experienced plumber’s diagnostic skills and repair expertise.

Sewer line issues

Slow drains, gurgling sounds, and sewer gas odors in multiple fixtures indicate a shared main sewer line problem like tree root invasion, pipe damage, or broken components. Repairing sewer lines demands professional equipment like augers and pipe cameras for assessment and clearing obstructions.

Complex installations or renovations

For new builds and whole-house re-plumbing projects that include features like in-floor radiant heat, manifold systems, drainage ejector pumps, or greywater recycling, installing new supply lines, drains, fixtures, and specialty equipment necessitates master plumbing know-how.

Finding the Right Plumber

With numerous plumbing companies available, choosing the right professional to meet your household’s repair and installation needs is crucial. Here are helpful tips for selecting an experienced, qualified plumber you can trust:

Seek recommendations

Talk to recent customers of neighborhood plumbers or scan social networks like Nextdoor for community referrals. Word-of-mouth praise helps identify pros with proven quality workmanship and service.

Check online reviews

Search plumbing company names on review sites like Google and Yelp, looking for long histories of positive feedback. Be wary of new companies without an established record. Read recent reviews, too, since quality can fluctuate over time.

Verify licensing and insurance

Confirm state-level licensing for both companies and individual plumbers. This demonstrates proper qualifications, training, and compliance with construction codes and standards. Ask for proof of liability insurance and workman’s compensation, too. This protects you financially on the job.

Get quotes from multiple companies

Get project quotes from 3-5 plumbing companies to find affordable but quality service. Compare rates and offerings like warranties, emergency availability, equipment brands, and response times. An estimated middle ground often emerges.

Ask questions

Before hiring any plumbing company, ask detailed questions beyond estimating and pricing. Inquire about credentials, ongoing training, specialties, how long the company has served your area, typical turnaround times, work guarantees, and where they source parts and equipment. The answers help determine the optimal firm for you.


By familiarizing yourself with home plumbing systems, diligently maintaining them, and knowing when to call a professional, you can keep this vital utility working smoothly for your household. Performing basic upkeep is wise to maximize lifespan and efficiency and prevent problems. However, an experienced plumber’s expertise is invaluable for certain repairs and upgrades. Following the tips above when choosing which plumber to hire helps you select the perfect fit for your situation. With attentive care and qualified assistance when necessary, your plumbing can deliver reliable service for many years to come.


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