Your Spring Outdoor Maintenance Plumbing Guide
Here’s what to check outside your home before summer and the stormy season arrive.
Spring is the ideal time to declutter, clean and make sure everything inside your home is in working order. While much attention is paid to the interiors, the outside of your home is just as important to maintain. There is no better time than spring to inspect and clean the exterior parts of your property that are necessary to keep your house in good order. Summer storms and rain can wreak havoc on the exterior of your home (and garden), if a plumbing maintenance check is not conducted. Here is your spring maintenance plumbing guide so you can be prepared for whatever the weather delivers in the coming months.
Clean gutters, downpipes and stormwater drains
Gutters should be regularly cleaned to remove debris, including leaves, sticks and all other matter that has collected throughout the year. When the leaves sit in your gutter, they will decompose and any rainwater will collect this matter, which can potentially block downpipes and stormwater drains.
If you live in a low-set home, grab a ladder and some gloves and start clearing the debris from the gutters. For double-storey homes, you will need to hire a professional with the right safety equipment to clean your gutters safely.
The best way to check for a blockage in your stormwater drain is to use a hose and watch whether or not the water backs up through the downpipe or drain.
When it rains, take a good look at your gutters. If you see water flowing out of them, there is a blockage that needs to be cleared.
For any major stormwater blockages, your local licensed plumber will be able to blast the blockage away with a jet rodder machine. It’s important to ensure your gutters, downpipes and stormwater drains are clear before the storm season, to prevent water damage inside your home.
The worst-case scenario is a flood, which can be prevented if drains are clear.
Service hot-water units, air-conditioners and solar panels
Hot-water units get a good workout during winter, so spring is the ideal time to get your local plumber to check all connections and valves to ensure your hot-water unit is running as it should.
Air-conditioning units should also be serviced and their filters cleaned. Air-conditioning is heavily relied on during summer, so spring is the perfect time to ensure your air-conditioning unit is running optimally and will meet your needs during the heat of summer.
Solar panels will also require a maintenance check and a clean to ensure they work efficiently during summer. The film of dust that can cover your panels can decrease their absorption by up to 30 percent.
Check for leaks on hose taps
Hose taps are relied upon more during summer to water gardens, wash cars or provide water for fun slip-and-slide activities in the backyard. A dripping hose tap is rarely detected, but it can cause a lot of damage to your water bill. So make a habit of checking the taps outside your home for leaks each spring.
If there is a leak, the washer can be replaced. If the hose tap needs to be replaced, call your local plumber. They will also need to install a vacuum breaker valve to prevent the backflow of water that can be sucked through sprinklers, which can contaminate the drinking water supply to your street. This is a mandatory fitting that should be installed on all hose taps.
Check rainwater tanks
Rainwater tanks could have a whole story dedicated to their maintenance. However, the main checks are to ensure all openings have their mesh inserts to prevent debris, vermin and mosquitoes from going into your tank water.
Check the overflow pipe is secured to your stormwater drainage, and ensure any downpipes connecting to your rainwater tank have fall and are fastened correctly so the water flows into the tank.
The pump attached to your rainwater tank should have a cover. Check if the cover is still doing its job or if it needs to be replaced.
Check your ORG isn’t covered with debris
The grated drain outside your home is known as an overflow relief gully (ORG). Its specific purpose is to ensure an overflow of sewage comes through that grate in the backyard, instead of your home, should the street sewerage system ever back up.
Your ORG will have a pop-up grate covering the drain that youngsters can be notorious for removing and throwing rocks and debris down. Don’t ever cover an ORG or glue a lid on the grate as this opening is necessary for backups to flow through.
Check your ORG to ensure the grate isn’t covered with debris and check the level of water – if the water is quite high, you may have a blockage in your main sewerage line.
Septic tanks should be inspected and pumped out every three to five years. Some may require a more frequent schedule than this depending on how many people live in the property. There are a few things that owners of septic tanks can do each spring to maintain their septic system. Kathryn Worth from Evergreen Wastewater says it’s important to:
• Prune gardens and greenery around your septic systems to stop parasites and rodents entering.
• Trim back trees to stop the growth of roots.
• Check septic systems regularly.
Ideally, each spring the following areas should be checked – these inspections can be done by a qualified plumber:
• Check the level in your septic tank – it should not be more than two-thirds full.
• Identify if there are bad smells when you’re near the tank (rotten egg gas).
• Check for too much sludge or scum in the tank.
• Check if there is any green grass in the distribution area.
• Make sure your system is cleaned off regularly so qualified plumbers can access and service it.
When in doubt with the exterior of your property, a licensed plumber can complete an inspection for you to ensure everything is running as it should. When it comes to solar and air conditioning, ensure you engage the right licensed tradesperson.
If you know the stormwater drainage needs an upgrade to prevent water flooding into your home, spring is the ideal time to get a quote and start the works before storm season hits.
Source: Rebecca Senyard, Houzz Australia Contributor, Houzz