If you’re a first time home buyer, you probably feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of new things you’re responsible for. But if you learn the basics of the many systems in your house, you’ll soon have everything under control and be able to enjoy your new home. One of the most important aspects of your house that you need to have a decent understanding of is your plumbing.

Water Pressure

For residences, household pressure usually starts out around 45-60 pounds per square inch. In Florida, high water pressure is not common due to the flat landscape. However, if you live in the mountains, high water pressure can be a problem since water gains two pounds per foot due to the mountain slopes. It’s much more common in Florida for homes to have low water pressure. If this is the case in your home, there are things we can do, such as repairs or re-pipes, to make it stronger.

Storage

Utility rooms usually contain a variety of appliances, pipes, electrical equipment, and more. It’s also where the first time home buyer tends to store maintenance-type stuff such as paint cans, household cleaners and pool chemicals. The problem is that many of these chemical products are flammable and if they’re near furnaces, boilers, or hot water heaters, they can become fire hazards, especially if any of these appliances have pilot lights.

Water Temperature

One of the first things a first time home buyer will notice is the temperature in the shower or kitchen sink. If it’s hotter or cooler than where you used to live, you might find yourself uncomfortable. It’s wise to remember that you can set your hot water heater to a specific temperature and this temperature can have important consequences.

Did you know that it only takes half a second to scald your skin in 150 degree water? Most modern hot water heaters are set at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but older models could be set as high as 140 or 150 degrees. This is especially important if you have children in your household.

Hot Water Heater Maintenance

In addition to checking the default temperature on your hot water heater, a first time home buyer should learn a few things about about hot water heater maintenance. For example, you can significantly extend the life of your hot water heater by replacing the sacrificial anode rods.

Sacrificial anode rods are designed to corrode so that your water heater tank doesn’t. They’re made of magnesium or aluminum, and they shrink over time. They start out at about 3/4 of an inch in diameter, but by the third year, they’ve shrunk to 1/4 inch or less. Replacing them regularly can really go a long way toward keeping your hot water heater healthy and performing well.

Drain Cleaners

The first time home buyer might run down to the hardware store and buy a gallon of corrosive drain cleaner to take care of a clogged drain but be careful with this method. While corrosive drain cleaners might seem to do the trick by breaking through solid matter in your pipes, they frequently cause injury to homeowners and plumbers when they have to open up pipes to do repairs. It’s a much better idea to use non-corrosive cleaners in your drains and keep your family safe.

Your Home’s Plumbing History

A first time home buyer might be thrilled to learn about the history of a new home but you probably don’t think much of your home’s plumbing history.

Do you know how old your pipes are? Most of the nation’s water pipes that were installed after World War II are in serious need of replacement. Old clay sewer pipes can be infiltrated by trees roots and shifting soil can cause breakage at pipe joints. If you’re still in the purchasing phase, inspect the pipes of the home you’re purchasing and learn all you can about the home’s plumbing history from its former occupants. If you know what you’re dealing with, you’ll be much better able to make informed, wise decisions when problems arise.

Plumbing Warning Signs

Fortunately, homes often give warning signs before major plumbing catastrophes but the first time home buyer might not know what to look for. Here are some clues:

  • A stammering faucet could indicate that a water line is leaking.

  • clogged toilet could mean that the sewer line is blocked.

  • clogged garbage disposal could mean that too much food is being flushed through the sewer lines, potentially causing a backup.

When you pay attention to warning signs, you could avoid a big, destructive problem in the future.

A Sudden Increase in Your Water Bill

A first time home buyer may not know how much a typical water bill is in the Jacksonville area, but after a few months in your new home, you’ll have a benchmark to go by. If you notice an unexplained increase in your water bill one month, be suspicious of a plumbing problem. Perhaps there’s a leak in your sprinklers or a toilet that is running around the clock. Don’t ignore an unusually high water bill – check your plumbing.

Armed with information about the plumbing system in your new house and aware of the potential problems and pitfalls, the first time home owner can successfully navigate the challenges of home ownership. When a question or problem arises, call us at Bill Fenwick Plumbing. We’ve been serving first time home owners in Jacksonville for 40 years and we’re happy to help you, too.