Spring is here and summer is on the way, and that means out attention turns to being outside and enjoying the warm weather and fresh air. It also means that we start tending our lawns and gardens and nurturing their growth. Finally, we also expect plentiful rainfall.

During this time of year, we start using our outdoor plumbing again. That means running garden hoses and making sure that the rainwater is properly diverted away from the home. Here are a few things to keep in mind and check about your home’s outdoor plumbing.

Spigots and Hoses

Outdoor faucets (otherwise known as spigots or silcocks) can be tricky when running them for the first time of the year. We highly recommend using a high-quality faucet such as that by Woodford which has a vacuum breaker for safety and sanitation reasons. These spigots don’t allow hose water to be siphoned back into the house which can contaminate the freshwater supply. 

Before turning the outdoor faucet to the on position, inspect the indoor portion first. Oftentimes, there’s another indoor silcock which may need to be turned on first. Then, when running your outdoor faucet, check back to the inside of the home to make sure there are no leaks. During the winter, some pipes may have frozen, especially if the faucet wasn’t insulated. Split pipes or broken seals can cause leaks which can spell big problems. So, when you turn on your faucet, make sure you don’t hear or see water streaming out the wall or ceiling.

Cracked pipe after freezing
Cracked pipe after freezing

When choosing hoses, avoid those constructed of cheap vinyl. Invest in a sturdy rubber hose, and always properly store your hose to avoid kinks, tears, or cracks. When you first attach your hose, look for leaks at the faucet. Leaks there may indicate that the rubber washer may need to be replaced or that there’s a problem with the spigot. Then, inspect the hose for leaks. If you find problems, replace the hose.

Outdoor Drainage

Most often, downspouts from gutters eject water away from the home onto the lawn or pavement. However, some homes empty downspouts into underground corrugated plastic or PVC pipes. Running a hose down the downspout may help to find any blockages which may have occurred from debris or roots clogging the system. Sometimes those clogs can be removed by rodding it like other drains. But, sometimes, the underground drain pipe may need to be replaced, especially it it has cracked or collapsed.

We’ve written about sump pumps before. In Chicago’s Suburbs, most sump pumps remove rain water out of the house on the lawn, to the street, or to a retention pond. We recommend using a rigid pipe system to move the water to its desired location. Sometimes these pipes too can be clogged, so it’s best to test and inspect how well the water is being removed by filling the sump basin to trigger the pump, and observing the system for leaks or malfunctions.

When to Call a Plumber

If you notice any issues with your outdoor plumbing, don’t hesitate to contact a professional plumber like our team here at DRC Plumbing and Sewer. You can rest easy that you’ll soon be free of problems, and you’ll enjoy your outdoor time happily.

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