Preventive tips for the maintenance of your pipes
A home is a great investment, but you have to take care of it to increase its value over time. Here are some handy maintenance tips.
Check what’s invisible but essential
Many parts of a home are out of sight but shouldn’t be out of mind. Piping is one of them. For your house to remain both functional and comfortable, you need to keep a constant watch over all the pipes buried in your walls and floors and in the ground.
The older the home, the more likely it is that the insulation will be deficient. This is often the case with homes that have crawlspaces rather than finished heated basements. Since temperature swings are common in Quebec, pipes could burst and cause costly damage. One solution, which works for secondary residences as well, is to enwrap exposed pipes in heating cables, which can be turned on from late fall to late spring. If you’re going south during the winter, be sure to heat your rooms adequately while you’re away and have someone you know keep tabs on the house to make sure everything is fine.
There are hoses in dishwashers and washing machines that we don’t usually think about because they aren’t normally seen. They’re usually under pressure, so with wear and tear over time, they can burst. It’s important to check the seals for leaks on a regular basis, and if you find any, promptly reseal them or replace the hoses. If you’re going on vacation, shut off the water.
The same goes for bathroom sink faucets. They are often hidden in a cabinet, and it’s important you check them regularly. Any stains at the bottom of the cabinet mean it’s time to take action.
French drains explained
French drains are piping systems that run around the outside of the house at the base of the foundations. They collect rain and sprinkler water and direct it to a central drain connected to the municipal wastewater system. While they are made of flexible, durable materials today, just a few years ago we were still using terracotta cylinders that were lined up together without necessarily being connected and sealed.
Over the years, plants and soil can make their way into these conduits, preventing water from draining away and allowing it to accumulate instead around the house foundations. When buying a home or performing maintenance, make sure that everything is working properly. If the basement isn’t finished, any such problems will be easy to see, because concrete that is saturated with water will leave white marks at the base of the foundations. These marks are called efflorescence or bloom. If the concrete base is inaccessible, specialized contractors equipped with monitors and cameras can diagnose problems and, if necessary, suggest ways to remedy them.
Since most houses are connected to municipal sewers, it’s the owner’s responsibility to ensure that the main drain from the house to the sewer drains well and isn’t obstructed by tree roots or anything else. Once again, camera-equipped specialists can perform a diagnosis.
Then there are outdoor water sources. In the fall, garden hose outlets and hot tub or pool pipes all require proper maintenance and preparation for the winter. Freezing temperatures can do enormous damage, bursting pipes and flooding not only your yard but your neighbours’ as well. Faucets should be turned off not only outside but at their point of origin inside the house.
Gutters are another item that can accumulate water and cause damage if poorly maintained. They’re installed all around the roof eaves with drain pipes running downward and are designed to capture rainwater and channel it toward the ground.
In the fall, leaves can accumulate and obstruct them. Then, due to poor drainage during winter thaws, water can accumulate at the edge of the roof and seep in, causing damage that is costly to repair. Annual gutter maintenance is therefore essential to protecting your home.
Last but certainly not least, the best precaution is to be ready to act quickly when damage occurs. That means remembering where the water service line valve is so the water supply can be quickly shut off throughout the house whenever necessary.
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