Summer plumbing tips to avoid the season’s most common problems

People tend to associate plumbing problems with winter – frozen pipes, overworked water heaters – but the summer season often bring its own issues. Here are four problems in particular that can put a damper on your fun in the sun, as well as summer plumbing tips to help you avoid them.

1.  Clogged garbage disposals

Many healthy summer staples produce scraps that should never find their way into a garbage disposal.  Corn husks or cobs and watermelon rinds are prime examples. Large bones from grilled steaks and wings are also a no-go when it comes to your garbage disposal. Toss hard or fibrous food waste into your kitchen trash can instead, or consider starting a compost bin for biodegradable scraps. (Sleek, modern compost bins are designed to sit on your kitchen counter. Dump contents into a larger, outdoor compost area when full.) Cooking oils are also common in summer and should never be dumped down your sink, whether or not you have a garbage disposal. (Let oils and fats harden and scrape them into the trash instead.)

2.  Overloaded washing machines

Kids home from school and trips to the river or pool can mean a big increase in laundry. It be seem tempting to stuff your washing machine as full as possible to avoid extra loads, but this can cause big time problems. Too many clothes, towels and beach blankets can wrap around the agitator and potentially break your machine. An overstuffed machine may also overflow and flood your home! At the very least, not enough space for agitation can result in clothes that don’t get clean or come out of the washing machine soapy. Some good summer plumbing tips for laundry: Take the extra time to keep loads reasonably sized for your machine to handle.  Run laundry when you will be at home to notice any potential problems before they become mini-disasters. Keep your washing machine pulled out slightly from the wall to avoid overheating and kinked hoses.

3.  Degraded sprinklers

Embedded sprinkler heads can clog easily. Carefully clean and examine each one before turning them on for the season. Check on them periodically throughout the summer. Embedded sprinklers can easily be chewed up by lawnmowers so double check that sprinkler heads are lowered before you begin cutting your grass. All types of sprinklers and outdoor hoses are prone to degradation if you only use them three months out of the year. Wear and tear leads to small leaks which you may not notice until you receive your water bill. Give hoses and sprinklers a thorough cleaning and examination each summer before you turn on the water.

4.  Clogged or moldy air conditioning drains

Air conditioning drains remain moist all summer long, creating a perfect space for mold to thrive. Mold and other buildup can also create blockages. Blocked water has nowhere to go begins leaking from the unit instead. The leak may not be noticed immediately, in which case hidden damage can build for some time before being discovered. Avoid costly water damage by having your air conditioner cleaned and inspected once a year, ideally just before the start of summer.

Some simple rules regarding what goes down your drains, expounded with yearly maintenance for your summer sprinklers and air conditioners, can save you from the most common summer plumbing problems. Hopefully these summer plumbing tips will save you a bit of time and frustration! As always, if a problem is persistent or outside your comfort zone, give your local Portland plumber a call.