A Spring-Cleaning Checklist According to Your Plumber

The temperatures are finally rising. The snow is finally melting. And somewhere in the woods, the bears and bumblebees are shaking off the drowsiness of their months-long hibernation. Over the coming days and weeks those woodland critters—much like us—will be hard at work on preparing their homes for the hum of their summer activities. However, as far as we know, bears and bumblebees don’t have any plumbing-related spring-cleaning tasks to check off their list.

The sub-zero temperatures, howling winds, freezing rain, and mountains of snow that come with every winter can take a toll on even the best-maintained plumbing systems. Winter’s many types of precipitation—snow, sleet, hail, etc.—can actually move debris on the ground such as leaves and garbage into outdoor drains and gutters. Freezing temperatures can cause ice damage in outdoor plumbing systems. And infrequently used drains and pipes can make for perfect dens of hibernation for woodland critters who prefer the comforts of central heating to the whims of the wild winds.

As the snow begins to melt and the flowers begin to bloom, spring is the perfect time to check up on your home’s indoor and outdoor plumbing. Check out this comprehensive spring-cleaning plumbing checklist.

Indoor Plumbing

  • Check for leaks: We tend to spend more time indoors during the colder months, doing our own version of hibernating—i.e., bundling up under layers upon layers of sweaters and blankets while sipping hot chocolate and dreaming of warmer days. All of that extra time indoors means more wear and tear on our plumbing fixtures. You’ll want to check all of the faucets in your home as well as your appliances for any leaks that might have developed during the winter months. Spring is the perfect time to replace worn-out parts and pieces such as O-rings.
  • Remove mineral build-up: Salt is great for seasoning food, de-icing the roads… and clogging up your plumbing fixtures. Some of the salt that we use throughout the winter eventually finds its way into our home’s plumbing system whether it’s through the pipes or even simply coming off of our clothes in the washing machine. All of that extra mineral build-up can clog your plumbing fixtures, cause leaks and drips, and erode parts. You’ll want to soak fixtures with mineral build-up in a solution of vinegar and water to get them sparkling clean and ready to shine in the summer sun.
  • Clean drains: With all of the extra time that we spend indoors during the winter months, a lot more debris ends up going down the drain. If you’re noticing that your sinks and tubs are taking longer to drain than they did just a few months ago, you’ll want to grab a drain cleaning product to clear the blockage. Sometimes, cleaning products aren’t capable of getting your drains as clean as they should be. In those cases, you’ll want to contact your plumber about conducting a high-pressure cleaning or video inspection of your clogged drain.
  • Check your water heater: Check the temperature of your water heater. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends setting your water heater to 48°C (120°F) to maximize energy efficiency without losing hot water.
  • Check your water meter: Finding leaks in your home isn’t always the easiest process. Leaks can hide in difficult-to-see spaces or occur too slowly to observe. But there’s a sure-fire way to check for leaks in your home: your water meter. Check your water meter before bed and mark the reading. If the reading changed when you checked it the following morning, then you likely have a leak somewhere in your home—or a nighttime bubble bath enthusiast.
  • Check your sump pump: Depending on your home’s elevation and draining, springtime might be the time of year when your sump pump puts in the most work as all of that snow melts. Check to see that your sump pump is functioning properly by pouring water into the pit until it switches on. You’ll also want to ensure that your pump is draining the water well-clear of your home.
  • Flush out sinks and drains: Not all of the sinks and drains in our home get the same attention. Laundry basins, for example, can go months without seeing a drop of water—unless there’s a pesky leaky. As you’re going through your spring-cleaning checklist, pour a gallon of water down infrequently used sinks and drains to flush away loose debris and eradicate lingering odours. You can add cleaning products to the gallon of water for particularly stubborn odours.

Outdoor Plumbing

  • Clean drains, gutters, and downspouts: Did you know that, during the last Ice Age, receding glaciers moved mountains of rocks hundreds or even thousands of miles? Just imagine then what a little snow and ice can do to autumn leaves over the winter. As the snow and ice melt in spring, the receding build-up and run-off water can move debris into your drains and gutters. You’ll want to clean those out before the April showers cause water damage to your roof and foundations. And don’t forget to check on your downspouts. After a particularly cold and wet winter, your downspouts may have experienced some wear and tear from icicle formations and freezing rain storms.
  • Inspect and clear outdoor faucets: Hopefully, in the autumn before the first freeze, you will have remembered the shut-off valve to your outdoor faucets—the one to your hose bibb in particular. If you’re planning on doing any outdoor gardening in the spring and summer, you’ll want to make sure that your outdoor faucets are in working order. Any water that hung around in your hose bibb over the winter could have frozen and caused cracks in your fixtures or pipes. Similarly, any excess water in your garden hose would have frozen, expanded, and likely caused damage.

Contact Your Plumber

There’s no shame in outsourcing your spring cleaning to a professional. If you really want a deep clean of your home’s plumbing system so that you can have a stress-free summer, request your appointment with Plumbing Medic today.