7 Plumbing Maintenance Tips Every Plumber Wish You Knew

Last Updated On October 19, 2021
plumbing maintenance tips

We get it, some homeowners are more confident with DIY projects than others. Many can feel especially intimidated when it comes to plumbing maintenance. But not every plumbing problem requires experience to fix it, just some “know-how.”

So let’s talk about some routine plumbing maintenance tips and easy repairs to get you started.

In this PlumbingNav guide, we’ll cover:

  • The 7 most common plumbing maintenance items
  • How to prevent future problems for your plumbing system
  • Some helpful tips when things do occur

7 Common Plumbing Maintenance Items:

Remember, you’re not the first person to embark on regular plumbing maintenance. The history of America’s plumbing system dates back to the 1800s. So many homeowners have gone before you.

As a plumbing blog, we’re familiar with common FAQs related to a home’s plumbing system.

Top Common Items Requiring Plumbing Maintenance:

  1. Water heater
  2. Dripping / Leaky Faucet
  3. Clogged Drain
  4. Garbage Disposal
  5. Frozen Pipe
  6. Outdoor Faucet / Hose Spigot
  7. Replacing Plumbing Fixtures

Now, let’s explore preventative maintenance and basic repairs that arise.

#1 Water Heater Maintenance

Your water heater needs routine maintenance. It’s an important part of your plumbing system, so keep it happy. It represents 14-20% of your monthly energy bill, so regular plumbing maintenance can reduce operating costs.

These water heater maintenance items can be handled without calling a plumber.

First, your anode rod should be checked and replaced every 3 to 5 years. (See this post to learn what an anode rod is and does.)

Replacing the sacrificial anode will help prolong the life of your tank, especially if you have hard water. Identify the best one for replacement based on your water type.

Second, drain your water heater tank to remove sediments every 1 to 2 years. This prolongs the heating element, the tank, and maximizes holding capacity.

Flushing isn’t just for traditional units. You should also flush your tankless water heater every 2-3 years.

#2 Leaky Faucet / Dripping Faucet

Odds are you’ll face a leaking faucet at some point. A dripping faucet is actually caused by a faulty washer, gasket, or valve inside the handle. You can fix the water leak by replacing the dripping faucet disc or cartridge.

This video illustrates this DIY plumbing repair and shows each faucet component type.

#3 Clogged Drain

Drain cleaning is a common plumbing issue. But these preventative plumbing maintenance tips can help you avoid clogs from forming.

Avoid pouring cooking grease down the kitchen sink drain. Once grease hardens it builds up in pipe drains. Instead, pour cooking grease into an empty food container. Let it cool, then toss it.

For bathroom drains, ladies can avoid brushing long hair while standing over the sink. Men, rinse your razor in a shaving cup instead of under the faucet.

For beard trimming, close the stopper and wipe out hair with a damp paper towel when finished. Toss the hair in the garbage vs rinsing it all down the drain. (This also gives your sewer line system a break, too.)

Drain already clogged? If a toilet bowl, try hot water and soap. Give it time, then plunge it.

Clogged sink drain, use a natural drain cleaner. Avoid a chemical drain cleaner that might do damage to pipes.

#4 Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals don’t need much maintenance but do recognize their limitations.

Always use the disposal while running water. Don’t send wet coffee grounds down, and avoid grinding potato peelings, celery, cabbage, eggshells, bones, or chicken skin.

Make sure you run the disposal at least every 2 weeks. You can also grind ice with coarse salt to clean the blades and remove debris.

Have a jam? Look for the small “jam buster” wrench that came with your unit. Insert it under the bottom, and turn in the opposite direction. This will dislodge the most basic problems.

#5 Frozen Pipe

Northern homes have insulation due to freezing temps, but many southern homes do not. Pipes located along exterior walls can freeze, becoming an expensive plumbing emergency.

In cold weather, leave your cabinets open to expose pipes to warm air in the house. This works for kitchen sinks and bathroom vanities located against a cold wall.

In basements, wrap any exposed pipe with flexible pipe insulation. It’s inexpensive and easy to install. You can also buy a pipe heater cable to keep pipes warm.

#6 Outdoor Faucet / Hose Spigot

Outdoor faucets can also freeze and burst during Winter. It’s best to winterize these when temperatures approach freezing. You can go DIY style by wrapping plastic grocery bags thoroughly around the exposed metal, then taping with duct tape.

Too trashy? We get it. Most people buy outdoor spigot freeze protectors instead. Install late fall, and get the hard exterior type. (Cheap styrofoam shells break almost every year.)

#7 Replacing Plumbing Fixtures

Ok, while technically not a plumbing maintenance tip it’s a common upgrade. Changing plumbing fixtures makes a room current, and saves money on the water bill. Here is the easiest and most common fixture change; the showerhead.


Maybe you want a massage or stronger water pressure. Either way, a new showerhead can work wonders.

Tip #1: Some local energy companies offer credits or discounts toward shower heads that conserve water. Ask.

Tip #2: Use an old t-shirt when loosening / tightening the showerhead. This will help you avoid permanent grip marks on the metal parts.

We hope these plumbing maintenance tips come in handy, bring you confidence, and save you money.

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I'm passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, "how-to", and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!

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I'm passionate about all things plumbing, and love sharing tips, "how-to", and reviewing the latest products to help make your project a success!

About Plumbing Navigator

We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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