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by Michelle Weissman

    Spring is here! So while you're tidying up the garage and taking out the lawn furniture, it's also time to thoroughly check your home's plumbing system to ensure that it is running at an optimum level.
    "The long winter months can put additional stress on your plumbing system," says John Winther, director of plumbing for Roto-Rooter. "By checking the plumbing system on a seasonal basis, you may help to foresee and prevent a plumbing crisis."
    The plumbing experts at Roto-Rooter recommend that you visually inspect all rooms in your home that utilize water to ensure that your pipes are functioning properly. Following is a spring cleaning checklist to help you examine your home.
Kitchen
Change all water filters on filtration systems and purifiers.
Bathrooms
If your shower has weak or uneven pressure, try soaking the shower head in vinegar to remove mineral buildup and increase water pressure.
Flush the toilets to make sure they work properly, also checking that the water is not continuously running. If the water is running, shake the flush handle to free the chain. If that doesn't work, remove the tank lid and gently raise the float ball until the water stops running. If the water continues to run, turn off the shutoff valve. Inspect for broken or warn parts and replace as necessary.
Outside
Be sure down spouts are cleaned out and free of leaves and debris.
Check your yard drains and clear any obstructions.
Check all faucets and hose bibbs to make sure water is flowing freely.
    If an outdoor faucet is barely dripping, or if there is leakage inside your home the first time the hose is turned on,     you had a frozen pipe that has cracked and needs to be replaced.
Laundry Room
Clean out lint accumulated in the strainer of stationery tubs. Fasten extra lint traps to the hose that drains from washer.
Hoses on washers and dryers should be replaced approximately every five to seven years.
Basement
Inspect your water meter to make sure there are no slow leaks in your home.
    Take note of the reading on your water meter at night, before you go to bed. The following morning - without         using any water overnight - note the reading again. If the meter has moved, you have a leak somewhere in your     home and that is costing you money. (You can calculate the approximate number of gallons lost and call your          local water company for an actual cost estimate of a leak over a six month or one year period.)
Survey the basement for water leaking in along the sides. If you notice water marks on the walls, it could be a sign that there was flooding recently due to blocked down spouts.
Avoid future flood problems and prepare for the rainy season by making sure your sump pump is working properly.
    Simply pour a few buckets of water into it, make sure it turns on, discharges the water and shuts              off without any problem.
This is also a good time of year to consider a septic tank treatment - a liquid that contains special hybrid spore-forming bacteria that helps decompose the organic matter built up in the septic tank.
Have your septic tank pumped every three years.
    In addition to organic matter that floats to the top of the septic tank, there are heavy solids - like soil, sand and          large food particles - which collect on the bottom of the tank. Pump the septic system to remove these solids,          thus maintaining the full capacity of the septic tank.

Bringing your home's plumbing system back to life each season is like working in the garden - a little attention now will help ensure regeneration later.

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Last Revised: Wednesday, February 17, 1999