6 Summer Plumbing Problems (and How to Avoid Them)Summer is for fun—travel, entertaining, relaxing and recharging for the busy fall ahead. Don't let summer plumbing problems spoil your down time! Here are six common (and preventable) situations to watch out for, so you can avoid seeing us this season.
Outdoor fun = indoor mess.
Whether your summer fun involves sand and surf, hiking trails or ATVs, it’s a good bet that it comes with an extra dose of dirt at the end of the day. When you're washing up after your adventures, make sure you keep the worst of it out of your drains. They weren't designed to handle large amounts of sand, gravel and mud, and could become clogged or damaged.
Instead, hose yourself—and any kids or pets you took with you—off outside and knock the debris from clothes you plan to place in the washing machine. Your drains will thank you!
Some summer foods don't agree with your garbage disposal.
Your garbage disposal works hard year round, but summer can pose some additional challenges for this tireless tool.
- Taking advantage of summer fruits and vegetables? Fibrous parts, like corn husks and cobs, celery strings, banana peels and artichokes can jam up your disposal. Hard seeds and pits, including popcorn kernels, can also be a hazard.
- Grilling out? Be sure guests know not to put bones or fat down your garbage disposal, if you want to keep it running its best.
If you had your sprinkler system inspected this spring, after winter’s disuse, you’re a step ahead in keeping it in working order throughout the summer. But, there are still a few things to look out for:
- Watch where you’re mowing. Aboveground sprinkler heads are easily damaged by mower blades (and vice versa).
- Prevent pet damage. Tubing and other interesting bits of plastic may be tempting chew toys!
Some dogs (and most cats) shed all year, while others grow a bulk winter coat that sheds in late spring/early summer. Whatever your breed’s schedule, you’ll want to prevent all that hair from clogging your pipes and causing backups.
- Brush your pet regularly to reduce the amount of hair that hitches a ride on your clothes and linens and into your washing machine—or into your tub drain during the next bath.
- Avoid bathing a pet in the bathtub if you can. If you can't, make sure to trap fur and debris before it goes down the drain. There are devices on the market that can help with this.
- Pre-rinse especially dirty pets. A fur coat can pick up a lot of gravel, sand and mud!
If you have summer travel planned, make sure your home is ready for it—especially if you're going to be away for weeks (or, lucky you) months at a time.
- Arrange to have a trusted friend or neighbor check in on your house and make sure everything is ok. Even an absence of a couple of days could lead to a big and costly mess if a leak goes undetected.
- Check your water-using appliances for loose or cracked hoses, leaks or other malfunctions.
- Turn your water heater down to its low, pilot or vacation setting. No need to waste energy heating water that won't be used!
- If you’ll be away for an extended amount of time, consider turning off your water main and hot water heater and draining your pipes and tank.
- Empty the dishwasher and washing machine, and leave them open to air. While you're at it, make sure your garbage disposal and plumbing traps are clean. That way, you won't be coming home to musty, unpleasant odors.
- Make sure all indoor and outdoor taps are completely off.
- If your irrigation system is on a schedule, make sure it will run as desired while you're away.
Heavy summer rainfall can overwhelm your gutters and other drainage. If basement flooding is a problem in your home, there are a couple of things you can do to mitigate the damage.
- Install a sump pump to collect and dispel and water that collects in your basement. If you already have one, make sure it’s in good condition.
- Keep your gutters, downspouts and other drainage systems clear of debris.
- Consider having a professional look at your property's grading. You may need to shift some earth or add more drainage to keep water away from your foundation.