When the temperature drops and golden leaves fall, there’s a good chance your plumbing will start giving you trouble. To forestall plumbing problems, it’s a good idea to take some preventive measures before Old Man Winter knocks on your door.
“Fall is a great time to check for pipe damage and make necessary repairs,” he says Michael GreenVice President of Operations at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing.
During the fall season, your home may suffer from problems with water heaters, clogged drains, a stuck garbage disposal, or a frozen pipe. But to help you focus your maintenance efforts, here are some of the most common plumbing problems you may see in your home.
1. Crowded gutters
Nothing says fall like a bunch of leaves. But you don’t want those leaves to get stuck in the gutters of your home.
“Filled gutters can lead to a variety of problems, including roof damage and foundation problems or cracks,” says Green.
To avoid these problems, grab your ladder and thick gloves and get to work clearing those gutters. Be sure to bring a bucket with a small shovel to remove debris and other debris. Then, hose down the gutters and inspect them—along with the downspouts—for any damage or cracks.
2. Clogged cleaning ports
The cleaning is close to the house and provides access to the plumbing through an outside pipe that usually sticks out of the ground.
“If the leaves fall, they can fall into the cleaning if the cap or cover is damaged or open. These leaves can back up the flow of water and cause a problem with the installation,” he says Doyle JamesPresident of Mr. Rooter Plumbing.
Homeowners may require professional camera inspection and drain snakes to ensure there are no obstructions.
“You’ll also want to make sure the cleaning cap isn’t cracked or broken to prevent debris from getting into the cleaning port,” says James.
3. Dirty sump pump
The sump pump filter screen can collect debris such as mud, leaves, and pebbles during the fall, which can cause clogs, premature pump shutdowns, or even stagnant water in the basement.
“A quick visual inspection should tell you whether or not the sump pump is working and whether there is a problem,” says Green. “It’s crucial to catch it early.”
The easiest way to tell if your sump pump is dirty is to slowly pour a bucket of water into the sump pit. If it starts automatically, everything is fine. If not, it’s time to do some maintenance.
“Wipe the filter clean, unplug the sump pump, and carry it outside along with the drain,” advises Green. “Disconnect the drain line and use a hose to flush out any dirt or clogs. Then flush the entire unit with water.”
Clean the entire swamp pit and then put it back in place. Then pour a bucket of water into the pit to ensure the system works.
“It’s best to do this before the winter snows start to fall,” says Green.
4. Root collapse
After a drought season, root penetration can be a problem.
“The first heavy rain of the season can cause tree roots to grow and expand as they search for water,” says James. “These roots can penetrate cracks in plumbing and block water draining from faucets in the home as it flows into the main sewer line.”
If you have large trees on your property, you may need to call in a plumber who can perform a camera inspection and snaking the drain to clear the obstruction.
5. Small or hidden leaks
Has a particularly rainy day caused a small leak in your living room? Don’t ignore it!
“It can be easy to write off small leaks in your home,” says Green, “but they can be dangerous. If there is a hidden leak in the plumbing system, water could enter areas with electrical wiring and sparks in the wiring could start a fire.”
Watch out for unexpectedly high water bills or discolored stains after a rainy day, which can indicate a leak. If you suspect you have a leak, call a plumber who can diagnose the problem.
6. Garden hose breakdowns
It’s easy to forget to put down garden hoses in hopes of one last breath of summer temperatures. But failing to put them away before the temperatures drop could cause problems.
“Make sure all garden hoses are disconnected, and if the outside spigots aren’t freeze proof, at least protect them with a foam cover to avoid freezing, bursting and flooding,” says James.