Welcome to the Homeowner’s Guide to Plumbing Excellence in Ottawa. This comprehensive guide is designed to assist you, the homeowner, in understanding and maintaining your home plumbing systems. Plumbing issues can arise at the most inconvenient times, but with the right knowledge and guidance, you can prevent or tackle most common problems. From understanding the basics of your home’s plumbing layout, learning minor repair techniques, to knowing when to call a professional, this guide will serve as your go-to reference for all matters of home plumbing in Ottawa. We aim to empower you with the knowledge to keep your home plumbing system running smoothly and efficiently.
Here are 10 key things you should know about your home’s plumbing system:
Understand Where the Main Water Shutoff Valve Is Located
The main water shutoff valve, an essential component of any home plumbing system, is your first line of defense in the event of a major leak. Typically, this valve is located in the basement, crawl space, or outside near the water meter. Regularly check this area of your home to familiarize yourself with its location and ensure it is free from obstruction. It’s critical to know how to manually close this valve, as swift action can significantly minimize water damage during a leak. In some cases, you may need a wrench or other tool to operate it, so keep any necessary tools nearby. Remember, time is of the essence during a water emergency, and knowing the exact location of your shutoff valve, and how to use it, can save significant time, money, and stress.
Regularly Check Faucets, Toilets, and Under-Sink Plumbing
Regular inspections of your faucets, toilets, and under-sink areas are a crucial aspect of preventive maintenance in home plumbing. Small leaks or drips can often go unnoticed, gradually escalating into more significant issues. It is recommended to perform a routine check once a week, looking out for signs of moisture or small puddles underneath your sink areas, or around your toilets. Regularly inspect your faucets as well for any unusual dripping when turned off. Fixing these minor leaks promptly not only prevents larger, potentially costly repairs down the line, but also helps conserve water, contributing towards a more environmentally-friendly household. Additionally, listen for any abnormal sounds when using your fixtures, such as gurgles or hissing, which could indicate a potential issue. By incorporating these routine checks into your schedule, you can help ensure the longevity and efficient operation of your home’s plumbing system.
Avoid Pouring Fats or Oils Down Your Sink
Pouring fats, oils, and grease (commonly referred to as FOG) down your sink can lead to serious plumbing issues. While these substances may be liquid when they’re hot, they solidify when cooled, forming a thick, sticky residue that sticks to the inner walls of your pipes. Over time, this residue accumulates, reducing the diameter of your pipes and impeding the flow of water.
This can result in slow draining sinks, unpleasant odors, and eventually, complete blockages. In severe cases, it could even necessitate pipe replacements, which can be both costly and inconvenient. To avoid these problems, it’s advisable to let fats and oils cool and solidify, then scrape them into a compost bin or trash can. You can also consider recycling used cooking oil or using a grease disposal system. By adopting these practices, you can significantly extend the lifespan of your home’s plumbing system, save on repair costs, and contribute to a cleaner environment.
Be Cautious About What You Flush
In caring for your toilet and ensuring the efficacy of your home’s plumbing system, it’s crucial to be prudent about what you flush. The rule of thumb is that the only things that should be flushed down the toilet are human waste and toilet paper. Flushing other items, no matter how seemingly harmless or biodegradable they may appear, can lead to blockages, backups, and a host of other plumbing issues. Items such as wet wipes, even those labeled as ‘flushable’, sanitary products, dental floss, cotton buds, or paper towels should never be flushed. These items do not break down as readily as toilet paper and can cause severe blockages in your pipes or sewer system. Instead, these items should be properly disposed of in a waste bin. Being mindful about what goes down the toilet can save you significant hassle and expense in unnecessary plumbing repairs, and is a more environmentally responsible practice.
Insulate Pipes to Prevent Freezing
In Ottawa’s cold winter months, unprotected pipes can freeze, leading to potential bursts and costly water damage. Hence, it’s crucial to insulate your pipes properly. Start by identifying pipes that are most vulnerable to freezing, typically those in unheated areas of your home such as the basement, attic, garage, or exterior walls. To insulate your pipes, you may utilize pipe insulation products available in the market such as foam pipe sleeves, insulating tape or even newspaper for temporary protection. When installing, ensure to cover all exposed parts of the pipe, and secure the insulation well. Additionally, during extreme cold snaps, consider letting cold water drip from a faucet to keep water moving through the pipes and prevent freezing. Remember, prevention is always better (and often cheaper) than cure. Insulating your pipes is a straightforward task that can save you from the unwanted hassle and expense of dealing with frozen or burst pipes.
Know How to Adjust the Temperature on Your Water Heater
Understanding how to regulate the temperature of your water heater is essential both for safety and energy efficiency purposes. Most manufacturers set water heater thermostats at 140 degrees Fahrenheit by default, but the Department of Energy recommends a setting of 120 degrees for most households, as it reduces the risk of scalding and helps save on energy costs.
To adjust the temperature, start by turning off the electricity or gas to the water heater, depending on the type of your unit. For electric water heaters, locate the thermostat behind an insulation panel on the side of the tank. You may need a screwdriver to remove this panel. Once open, you should see a dial, knob, or digital display that allows you to adjust the temperature.
On gas water heaters, the thermostat is usually located below the gas valve and has a dial that displays the temperature settings. Rotate the dial to adjust the temperature.
Remember that adjustments should be made in small increments. After making an adjustment, wait for a few hours to allow the water temperature to change, then test the water temperature at the tap. If it’s not at the desired level, you can adjust again. However, be cautious not to set the temperature too low, as it can lead to bacterial growth in the tank.
Regularly checking and adjusting your water heater’s temperature can contribute to a safer and more energy-efficient home.
Understanding Ottawa’s Local Plumbing Codes
If you’re planning any significant home plumbing work in Ottawa, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with local plumbing codes. These codes set out the standards and guidelines for installation, alteration, or repair of plumbing systems, ensuring safety, health, and welfare of the residents. They define the methods and materials to be used, the requirement for permits, and inspections to ensure compliance. Non-compliance can result in fines, legal issues, or even make your home insurance invalid. The Ottawa Plumbing Code can be accessed online for reference. However, it is extensive and can be complex for non-professionals. For major projects, it’s recommended to hire a licensed plumber who is knowledgeable about the code and can ensure that your project complies with local regulations. Attempting DIY plumbing without understanding the codes can lead to costly mistakes. Remember, safety and compliance should always be a priority in any home improvement project.
Remember, understanding your home’s plumbing system is the key to prolonging its lifespan and avoiding costly repairs.