Few household problems are as aggravating and potentially costly as plumbing leaks. Even a pinhole leak can worsen and cause thousands of dollars in damages over time, so it’s always better to prevent plumbing problems before they occur, rather than attempting to dry out after the fact. These preventative measures can help keep water in your pipes, where it belongs.
Reduce Water Pressure
High water pressure is great when you want a hot shower, but it’s not so great for your pipes. Many homeowners have no idea what the water pressure in their plumbing is, and in some cases it can be as high as 90 psi (pounds per square inch). Anything above 80 psi can put a lot of stress on plumbing, and the ideal level is somewhere between 60 and 70 psi.
If you’re unsure of your water pressure, you can test it using a water pressure gauge, which is available at most hardware stores for around $10. For a long-term solution, a professionally installed water pressure regulator allows you to set the water pressure in your home to the desired level.
Upgrade Your Pipes
Old pipes are to blame for a lot of water leaks. Pipes made of plastic simply wear out over time, and copper pipes are vulnerable to corrosion. You can significantly improve your plumbing and reduce the likelihood of leaks by replacing the water supply lines that deliver water to faucets, toilets and washing machines with durable steel braided water supply lines.
Replace Old Shutoff Valves
Just like pipes, water shutoff valves can eventually wear out and start to leak, especially older valves, which usually have a rubber seal that wears out over time. You can replace old valves with quarter-turn ball valves, which last longer and are more effective if you need to shut off the water to an appliance quickly when a leak occurs.
Install a Water Softener
A water softer is by no means a necessity in every home, but large portions of the country have problems with hard water (check out the USGS Water Hardness Map to see if you live in an afflicted area). The mineral deposits caused by hard water can shorten the lifespan of plumbing, fixtures and water heaters, potentially causing leaks and costing thousands in replacement costs. If you see excessive buildup around pipe joints and fixtures (usually green stains on copper pipes, or orange stains on steel pipes) consider installing a water softener to remove minerals from your water.