by Kathryn Lively

The new year traditionally brings to mind a list of resolutions made to improve our bodies. Come every January, thousands of people around the country vow to quit smoking, lose weight, exercise more, and do other things to improve their quality of life. While these aspirations are quite noble and to be admired, one should not neglect making New Year's resolutions for your home, particularly your plumbing.

Yes, you can improve the quality of your house by making small changes over the course of the year. Adaptations to the way you use your plumbing can help you save money in the long run, and give you peace of mind that you have a safe and working home to enjoy every night. This year, as you throw away that pack of cigarettes and browse over health club brochures, take these items into consideration as well.

Have that water heater checked. Do you remember the last time you had a plumber check your water heater? If you can't remember, it's obviously been too long! Heaters, while sturdy, aren't meant to last forever, and while everything on the outset may seem okay with your water, an aging heater could present problems you don't realize. Make an appointment for a check-up.

Consider going green. If you're fed up with high water and energy bills, make this the year you work toward greening your home. Invest in low-flow toilets and shower heads, and ask your plumber about other money-saving options.

Watch what you flush. Lately there are a lot of products on the market like baby wipes and feminine hygiene products labeled as "flushable." Sounds nice to be easily rid of the garbage, but flushing anything besides toilet paper could lead to problems with your plumbing later on. The wise course of action would be to toss something in the trash if you're not sure it can be flushed.

Take care of your pipes, and they'll surely take care of your plumbing in 2010 and beyond.

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