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Last Updated: May 23, 2018
Plumbing problems often mean big messes and expensive bills. Home improvement experts offer the following three tips on what every homeowner should know to keep things running smoothly:
How to turn off water main
If you're going away on vacation, even if it's just for four or five days, you should turn off the water. Otherwise you risk coming back to a flooded house. And repairing water damage is often just as costly - sometimes even more so - than fire damage. Where is it? The valve often is outside, near the hose line. Every homeowner should know where to find it.
How to detect a leak
If your water bill is dramatically higher this month than it was the month before, and you didn't have a family of 10 visiting, you likely have a water leak. The first thing to do is to check the water meter. Most have a little red triangle, called a leak detector. If the triangle is spinning, it means there's water running. So if you have everything turned off and the triangle is spinning, you have a leak.
To check if a toilet is at fault, here's a simple test: Open the tank, drop food coloring in it and lift the toilet lid. If the water in the bowl is now that color, you have a leak.
Another common culprit is the hose bibb. People don't often notice a leak in an outdoor faucet, because nearby plants and bushes absorb the water. But the leak can attract pests and run up your water bill, so it needs to be fixed. This is complicated enough that it's worth calling a licensed professional.
How to avoid costly repairs
Plumbers see it all in a sewer line - paper towels, cell phones, underwear, frogs. Don't use your toilet or garbage disposal as a substitute for a trash can. Clogged sewer lines will leave you with a big mess - and an expensive plumbing bill.
Think of the disposal as a powerful cheese grater. If what you're discarding can go in a trash can, that's where it should go.