What Summer Can Do To Your Plumbing (And What You Can Do About It)

Construction & Contractors Articles

In most areas of the US, the summer months bring hot temperatures and good times, both of which can stress your home's plumbing system in various ways. Here are some seasonal issues that can plague you at this time of year, along with coping and prevention tips.

Lawn Watering Woes

Watering your lawn is a must in the summertime if you want to keep it alive and healthy -- and that's why a problem in your lawn sprinkler or irrigation system can pose an urgent problem this time of year. If your sprinklers aren't producing water, your problem may be as simple as a clogged or damaged sprinkler head or valve. This is an easy fix that you may be able to make yourself, and it's pretty obvious to the naked eye as well. Check the backflow device's valve as well -- it may simply be closed.

If your problem lies underground, however, you may need professional plumbing assistance. There's a chance that the water line feeding the sprinkler heads has gotten crushed by tree roots or vehicles, in which case you're not only losing water pressure, but you may also be soaking the ground and spiking your utility bill simultaneously.

Sewer Line Surprises

Does your part of the world get its share of expected summer showers? It's a common phenomenon as heated air rising from the ground meets cooler air above. You might be delighted and relieved by the occasional drenching as a way to beat the heat -- but you'll be less delighted if your sewer line backs up as a result.

The extra volume of water can strain a sewer line, especially an antiquated one made of clay or other fragile materials. Tiny cracks form, and groundwater from recent showers enter the line, making the overload even heavier. Eventually the pipe bursts or clogs completely, causing either a major loss of water pressure or a foul-smelling sewage backup.

Since you can't control when the next summer shower is in store, the next best strategy is to make sure your sewer lines are in tip-top condition. Your plumber can inspect the line with a fiber-optic cable to detect any cracks or blockages in the making. Springtime tree root growth may have done some early damage that is likely to get worse over the summer, or you may just want to replace an old, fragile line with a new one made of sturdy PVC. 

Barbecue-related Blockages

Summer means outdoor barbecues and dinner parties, which in turn means a potential challenge for your kitchen sink and garbage disposal. All those leavings have to go somewhere, and all too often they get tossed down the drain. Potato peelings, corn, celery, and other fibrous food products can wear down your garbage disposal blades and mechanism; they could also block the disposal or sink entirely, leaving you with a messy situation that requires the services of an emergency plumber.

Be kind to your plumbing during those summer feasts. Start by making sure your guests are emptying their plates into the wastebasket, not the sink or garbage disposal. But don't make your garbage disposal totally off limits, either -- feeding it some small shells, hulls, ice chips, or other resistant materials (along with plenty of water) can actually help keep the blades clean. If a blockage does occur, avoid pouring harsh plumbing products into it; you're better off calling an emergency plumbing service instead.

Toilet Trials

You probably do your share of hosting and entertaining during the summer months, whether you have kids home from school, relatives visiting for graduation, or a Memorial Day family reunion. This can be bad news for your toilets, particularly if they're already cranky under the best of circumstances. Overuse of toilet paper and the flushing of non-degradable objects can lead to a blocked toilet line pretty quickly, and a severe enough blockage can be a severe trial for a houseful of guests and family members. 

If you know you'll be using your toilets more than usual this summer, employ some common sense to help them stay functional. Put up a sign asking guests not to go overboard with the toilet paper, and not to flush any items that aren't supposed to travel that way. Keep a plunger standing by, and know how to use it properly. If your toilet is already worrying you, have a plumber check it out and make any corrections before you tax the poor thing with your next big summer bash.

Talk to your plumber about these and other seasonal issues that might affect your home's water system. With a little planning and luck, you can ensure that have all the water you want this summer -- and none that you don't!

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14 July 2015

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