The plumbing system requires more attention and maintenance than any other component of your home. If you haven’t experience a dripping faucet, toilet that won’t stop running, or clogged sink, consider yourself extremely lucky! Those minor issues are what make plumbers so wealthy.
Leaking pipes probably won’t be discovered until after-the-fact. No hardware store has a tool that detects a leaking pipe inside a wall, ceiling, or floor. There isn’t much you can do about leaking pipes except to look for them. If you have a basement you should be able to get an idea of where the pipes are located in your home and how they connect. Sinks and toilets are drained to a main pipe called the stack. Waste water flows out the bottom of the pipe and gases are vented through the top. You might be surprise to discover that your tub drains into a stack located at the opposite end of the house!
Check all faucets for drips. A slow dripping faucet is not a major problem, but if we have city water it could considerably jack up your water bill. If you really want to see how much a faucet is dripping, put the plug in the sink and check it later. If the sink fills in less than an hour you have a serious leak that needs attention. Look under sinks for signs of leaks. PVC pipe cement doesn’t last forever. PVC pipe is rather brittle and doesn’t last forever. If you find a leak under the sink, try to determine exactly from where it’s coming.
Remove the back of your toilet and inspect the parts. The flushing system for a toilet is not as complicated as it looks. Make sure water is not leaking from the bottom of the tank into the toilet bowl. Lift the toilet lid and check for water trickling in around the edges. Also check around the base of the toilet to make sure no water is seeping out from underneath. The toilet sits on a wax seal that helps prevent water from escaping.
Check your hot water heater for leaks. There should be a pressure relief valve somewhere on the tank. Make sure there isn’t any water on the floor under the pressure relief valve. If your hot water hasn’t been very lately, don’t adjust the thermostat. Cooler water temperatures is a sign that the heating element in an electric water heater might be on its last leg. If you have a gas water heater, cooler water temperatures might be a sign that the tank needs to be flushed or possibly replaced.