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A healthy plumbing system can help lessen the chance of leaks, ruptures, clogs and other not-so-nice events. Homeowners who take some basic precautions and implement a few simple steps can be more confident in the state of their home's plumbing, and can save on costly repairs as well.

  • Know where the main water shutoff valve is. This is normally very accessible so that the water to the whole house can be turned off in an emergency.
  • Check the household water pressure with an inexpensive gauge from the hardware store. Excessive water pressure can damage pipes, faucets and washing machine valves, which can lead to leaks and dramatically shortened lifespans for these items. In general, water pressure should be between 40-80 psi. A plumber can install a pressure reducing valve near the main shutoff to correct this condition.
  • Protect pipes from freezing by using pipe insulation where pipes are exposed to the cold. This includes outdoor faucets, garages, crawlspaces, and unfinished/unheated basements. Frozen pipes can burst and result in serious water damage to the home and belongings.
  • Avoid using chemical drain cleaners. Though often effective, they can damage cast iron drainpipes and cause bigger problems. Snaking the drain is a better solution - keep a plumbing snake on hand or have a plumber do this.
  • Do not put any kind of grease or cooking oils down the drain. These will just solidify as they travel through the pipes and can cause serious clogs further down the line. Instead, pour the grease into a paper cup or other disposable container and throw it away.

When it comes to plumbing, an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure!

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Before the weather grows colder it’s important to prepare for the winter months to prevent costly damage. Below are the fall preventative home maintenance steps that every homeowner should follow.

Gutters and Downspouts

 Clean gutters and downspouts frequently throughout fall to prevent build up of leaves and other debris. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot problems and pest infestations, not to mention ruined gutters.

 Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place.

 Ensure that water drains properly and doesn’t pool. Pooling can cause damage to foundations, driveways, and walkways.

Windows and Doors

Change summer screens to cool weather storm windows and doors.

Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window or door frames.

Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors to prevent drafts and to lower heating bills.

Heating Systems

Replace the filter in your furnace.

Consider having a heating professional check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs.

Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and to provide relief to those with respiratory problems.

Plumbing

To prevent pipes freezing and bursting, ensure that the pipes are well insulated.

Know how to locate and turn off the water shut-off valve in case pipes do freeze.

Chimney and Fireplace

Call a professional in to inspect and clean your chimney. Fireplaces that are regularly used during the season should have an annual cleaning to prevent dangerous chimney fires.

Test your fireplace flue for a tight seal when closed.

Attic ventilation

Be sure attic insulation doesn’t cover vents in the eaves to prevent winter ice dams on the roof.

Be sure ridge vents and vents at eaves are free of plants and debris.

Check bird and rodent screens for attic vents to prevent any unwanted guests.

Landscape and Yardwork

Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Now is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn.

Prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth.

Trim any tree limbs that are dangerously close to power lines or the roof of your house. Heavy snow and ice can cause damage in the winter.

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