Do you think it is time to learn how to do some basic plumbing repairs on your own? That's great, because every homeowner or renter should be able to at least shut off their water supply in an emergency and complete basic repairs such as unclogging drains. If you really want to understand your home plumbing though, you should put down your wrench and leave your house for a couple of days.
Back country camping, where water is not available through modern plumbing, helps you better understand exactly how humans consume water and get rid of waste. This will give you a new appreciation for modern plumbing and also give you a starting point for learning basic plumbing maintenance.
Reduce Your Water Usage
When you are camping, one of the main factors that will determine your campsite is access to water. This means you will either have to camp near a water source or carry water to your camp. Even if you are camped near a good source of water, you will still have to transport water from the source to your cooking area, and you will have to carefully purify any drinking water.
After a few days of camping, you will create cycles of storing water for usage and transporting water into and out of your camping area. You will also realize that water is heavy to carry and moving it around is a lot of work.
Moving water from the mainline into your home and back out again is also a lot of work for your pipes and pumps. One of the main things you can do to reduce the strain on your system and make it last longer is to reduce the amount of water that goes through your system. Shorter showers, not letting the water run while brushing your teeth, and washing in a filled sink instead of running water all help relieve stress on your system.
Limit Your Solid Waste
When you wash dishes at a campsite, you get the privilege of seeing just how many bits of food end up floating in your dishwater. At the end of the process, if you follow proper back country etiquette, you know that you must strain out these food particles before dumping your dishwater in a sump hole or broadcasting it.
Just as these food particles cause foul smells in the wild, they often get caught in your drains and create an unpleasant atmosphere in your kitchen. Similarly, hair can cause back ups in the bathroom. To prevent this, take your camping habits home. Thoroughly scrape your plates before washing and regularly clean your drains and traps.
Regularly Maintain Your Boiler
When camping, if you want hot water for a drink, to do dishes, or to take a shower, you must heat the water in the sun or over a fire. This takes more planning than you might think, and many novice campers find themselves without hot water at least once during a trip.
In the city, you might take hot water for granted, because your boiler is constantly doing the work of heating your water. But just like you need to keep wood available for your fire and keep your camp stove in working order to have hot water while camping, your boiler requires regular maintenance such as checking for leaks and cleaning out the boiler room.
Fix Leaks Immediately
When you haul every gallon of water from the river up into your campsite, you probably will not let water slowly leak out of your containers. However, many people allow leaks to drip for months before they get around to repairing them. A leak can cost you money and slowly damage your plumbing, so just like when you are camping, you should regularly check for leaks and fix them immediately.
Test Your Water For Impurities
You wouldn't drink water in the wild without testing it for impurities and either treating it or boiling it. While residential water may be potable without treatment, there is still a chance that you have hard water in your system. Hard water can cause buildups over time that reduce the effectiveness of your system. So, regularly test your water and install a water softener if necessary.
Now that you have gone camping and gotten in touch with how humans consume water, go ahead and pick up your wrench and start learning how to maintain your home system. If you find a problem you don't know how to fix, don't be afraid to contact a plumber.