Preparing your plumbing for winter is an important step in ensuring that your property remains in great condition throughout the coldest months of the year. When temperatures drop, the last things homeowners want to deal with are problems like frozen pipes or clogged toilets. Taking preventative measures to avoid plumbing emergencies is an important way to save time and money while eliminating stress. A look at the top ways to prep your plumbing system for winter can help your pipes remain in great working order, regardless of changes in weather.
Schedule a Pipe Inspection
The first step in preparing your plumbing for winter is to schedule a pipe inspection. Prior to extreme weather changes, experts recommend allowing a plumber or home services company to complete an audit of your pipes, using video inspection tools and other professional equipment. The home services professional can check pipes for cracks or damage and complete repairs before weak pipes create a plumbing emergency. A technician can also check for corrosion or buildup and clean deep within pipes as needed.
Check the Water Pressure
Another way to prepare your plumbing for winter is to have a professional check the water pressure. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, water pressure is the force by which water enters your house from the water main. Scientists measure water pressure in pounds per inch (PSI). According to the Environmental Protection Association (EPA), low water pressure occurs when the rate falls below 20 PSI. If you believe your water pressure is low, a plumber can test it using a commercial pressure gauge. Low water pressure is often a sign of blockage or leaks. A plumbing company can fix any obstructions or leaks before they become a greater problem during the winter.
Insulate the Pipes
Professional pipe insulation can shield your plumbing from the harsh conditions of winter. A professional can install insulation on both hot and cold water pipes to keep plumbing from stiffening and freezing due to the temperatures outside. The technician can also recommend pipe insulation sleeves for exposed faucets or fixtures. In addition to exposed pipes in common areas like bathrooms or kitchens, be sure to check basements and crawlspaces to prevent the accumulation of frost or ice from the cold air outside.
Disconnect Outdoor Water Systems
As winter approaches, it is also the right time to disconnect outdoor water systems. Detach your lawn hose and store it away for the season. You should also disconnect sprinklers, fountains, and similar external plumbing associated with your home. If your sprinkler network includes underground pipes, you can talk to a plumber about draining the system to prevent the accumulation of ice during the winter. Be sure to adjust the shutoff valves for your outdoor faucets to keep pipes from cracking or freezing during the winter. You can place a faucet jacket or outdoor sleeve on exposed handles or areas to avoid damage during cold weather. Drain any residual water from spigots and allow a professional to repair any damage, so you will be ready to reuse them next spring.
Unclog Sinks and Drains
Prior to the winter, it is also important to unclog sinks and drains. Plumbers have specialized devices, such as commercial plungers or drain snakes to remove clogs without damaging your pipes. Since commercial drain cleaners contain acids that can crack or corrode pipes, avoid using these harsh chemicals in an attempt to clean sinks or drains yourself. Instead, talk to a plumber about using methods like hydro-jetting to scour pipe walls without compromising their functional integrity. Since the upcoming holidays can also increase drain usage and exposure to materials like oil or cooking grease, winter is the ideal time to clean all drains.
Check Faucets, Taps, and Fixtures
As the weather becomes colder, it is important to check all faucets, taps, and fixtures for loose connections or leaks. While a leaky faucet may seem like a small problem at first, allowing a faucet to leak overnight can cause the excess water to freeze. Unfreezing your pipes is a daunting task, and it is usually simpler to hire a plumber to prevent this occurrence in the first place. If you need to replace an old fixture, it is also easier to do so before the holiday rush.
Flush the Water Heater
Experts recommend flushing your water heater once a year to eliminate sediment buildup. If you allow sediment to accumulate within a water heater, this buildup can create a barrier between the heating element and the incoming water. This forces the appliance to take longer to heat water and can result in higher energy bills. Flushing your heater before the winter season can help reduce the problem. Another way to save on energy costs is to adjust water heater settings so that temperatures never exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only will this help lower the risk of hot jets or burns, but it can also prevent your heater from overusing power to heat water to excessively high temperatures. Finally, winter is an important time to have a professional inspect your water heater for any leaks, cracks, unusual sounds, or problems with the pilot light or settings. A plumber can provide insight on how to repair the heater or whether it is time to replace the appliance.
Caulk Gaps Between Appliances
It is also important to caulk gaps within your home before the coldest days of the year. Spaces that may require caulking include gaps near your sink, bathtub, or toilet. Caulking prevents leaks and also helps stop cold air from seeping into the home. Since tubs and toilets can crack when unstable, caulking can help reinforce such fixtures and prevent cosmetic damage as well.
Repair Toilet Seals
In addition to the risk of freezing pipes, toilet seals can also freeze during the winter. Contact a professional to inspect or repair damaged toilet seals before they cause problems in the future. A plumber can use industrial sealant or replace worn seals if they are beyond repair.
Inspect the Septic System
If you have a septic system, experts recommend scheduling maintenance before the onset of winter. A trained expert can inspect the septic tank and drain field for clogs or debris. Technicians can also check connected pipes for any potential intrusion from tree roots. If you suspect blockage or malfunction, contact a plumber to make repairs before the busier times of the year.
Stabilize Indoor Temperatures
Maintaining stable indoor temperatures can also help prevent pipes and appliances from freezing. According to the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, you can stabilize indoor temperatures by setting the thermostat between 68 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Most experts recommend never letting overall temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Consistent thermostat settings help protect your body from extreme temperature changes and can help keep plumbing intact as well.
Sign Up for a Home Maintenance Plan
A home maintenance plan can help keep your plumbing running smoothly. With such a plan in place, a home services professional can perform consistent tune-ups to ensure that your plumbing system is ready for winter. A home maintenance plan gives your household priority in requesting repairs and also provides a consistent record for warranties or for individuals seeking to protect the resale value of their homes.
Contact Us Today
Winter seasons are replete with harsh conditions that can wreak havoc on your plumbing system. Fortunately, taking the right steps to protect your plumbing can help. Baker & Son’s Plumbing provides plumbing services for homes in Marion and surrounding areas. We offer everything from drain cleaning and sewer inspection to water heater maintenance and repair. In addition to standard plumbing services, we offer water filtration and water conditioning. Our storm shelter and crawl space services mean that you never have to fear an upcoming winter storm. Contact Baker & Son’s Plumbing today for all your Marion plumbing service needs.