Plumbing problems seem to occur at the most inconvenient times — because the most inconvenient times are generally during seasons or events that put stress on your pipes. Seasonal shifts, whether related to festivities, winter temperatures or travel, have the power to push your plumbing to the brink.
The following are our favorite tips from years of experience to help you prepare your plumbing for the cold-weather season when anything can happen (and frequently does).
1. Protect your plumbing pipes from freezing
When winter temperatures plummet, water can easily freeze inside, causing them to burst. If you are out of the house or unaware of a burst pipe, the results can be disastrous, including massive home floods and damage to your beloved furniture, rugs, and home structure.
To reduce the possibility of frozen pipes, wrap each of your un-insulated pipes in a blanket of foam. You can purchase foam tubes with a slit on the side at most hardware stores. Cut the tube to the length you need, pull it open and push it over and around your pipe. Use duct tape to secure if the foam does not have self-adhesive edges.
2. Fix home plumbing leaks now
The best time to get leaks repaired is the present. Check all of the faucets in your kitchen, bathrooms and utility room for drips and puddles. If you have a leaky faucet, contact your trusted plumber immediately to get your pipes back in tip-top shape.
3. Drain your water heater
If you live in a location with hard water, sediment can build up in your tank, causing rust to develop inside. This rust can then find its way into your drinking, cooking and bathing water. If your hot water heater already is rusted or is too old, consider purchasing a new one before cold weather sets in.
4. Lose the outdoor hose to avoid frozen pipes
Until warm weather returns, your best home plumbing practice is to disconnect, wrap up and pack away your garden hose. Leaving a hose connected outside in winter can cause water left inside to freeze and expand, freezing your faucets and connecting pipes as well. Just say no to hefty repair bills and yes to a hose and fixtures you can use next year.
5. Close and drain shut-off valves leading outdoors
If you have interior shut off valves leading to outdoor faucets, close them and drain the water from outside lines. Any water that remains in the lines and freezes could cause major damage.
6. Clean your home’s sump pump pit
Before cold weather hits, you will need to inspect and clean your sump pump and the pit in which it rests. When exposed to extreme cold, your pump can freeze, causing it to stop working.
If your sump pump malfunctions, water can enter your basement and cause flooding, especially when winter rains are in full swing. Do yourself a favor and inspect your pump and pit now to avoid massive flood damage and cleanup bills later.
Your winter should be full of cheer and warm family get-togethers, not exploded pipes and leaks that take days to fix. Prepare and repair your plumbing in advance to avoid a costly disaster.