As the air begins to chill, the freezing cold is approaching. While everyone loves to build a snowman and curl up by the fireplace with a loved one, that same freezing temperature can have harsh effects on your plumbing system.
Get ready for the cold with these tips:
Preparing your plumbing for winter is not too difficult with a few simple steps.
- Prepare your pipes
- Locate the shut off valve
- Get annual maintenance
Follow this advice, and your plumbing system should have a wonderful winter.
Pipe repairs can be very expensive, with the average cost around $15,000 for burst pipe replacement. Taking extra precautions to prevent water damage could mean big savings.
Insulating your outside pipes that are exposed to the cold air is easy with foam pipe insulation. Simply cover any outdoor lines that run from the source in the ground and up the wall into the home.
If you have a cold attic or basement, insulating pipes in these areas is also a good idea. Any pipes that could freeze from being exposed should be covered.
Most hardware stores also carry insulated covers for water hose spouts. To cover these fixtures, remove the hose, allowing it to fully drain, and attach the cap over the nozzle to prevent any freezing.
Pipes Inside the Home
Most people keep the inside of the home pretty warm so the interior pipes will not freeze. However, any time the temperature outside drops below freezing, there is always a chance of frozen pipes.
If you experience an exceptionally cold winter or plan to travel, a little extra due diligence in the home can help.
Opening the cabinets where the plumbing is, such as under the kitchen or bathroom sink, can help with allowing warm air to flow in and keep it from freezing.
Another tip for the really cold winter days is allowing the faucets to drip. Have you ever noticed rivers don’t freeze? It’s because they are constantly flowing. Get a little flow in your pipes with just a slight drip.
Find the Water Shut Off
Be able to find and identify the water shut-off valve in the event of a flooding emergency. Cold temperatures could lead to pipe bursts or leaks that could spill out onto the floor, leaving a flooded mess. You may also want to turn the water off completely and drain your pipes if you’re going to be away for a while during the winter.
If you notice a huge pipe leak or burst, make the quick decision to shut off the water to prevent any more water from causing damage. The shut-off valve is typically next to the water meter outside. This location could be on the side of the house or at the end of the driveway.
If you’re unsure of where the shut-off is, a plumber will know how to identify it.
Water sits still inside your water heater until it is used. This sitting can lead to build-up and corrosion from rust and any hardness in the water itself. Annual maintenance on the water heater can empty the tank and flush out the rusted water. No one wants that in their shower or cooking water.
Hot water is crucial during cold winter months, and checking it can also identify any problems such as tank corrosion or repairs that may be needed. Get a step ahead to avoid being stuck without hot water in the middle of a cold morning.
Common Winter Problems
While many things can go wrong with your plumbing during the freezing season, here are some common issues to look out for:
Many water heaters are stored in a garage and are exposed to colder air. Keeping the garage door closed and insulating the water heater with proper, safe insulation can help it to work correctly.
A common issue for water heaters is having to work too hard to keep up in the cold. Setting your heat gauge no higher than 125 degrees will prevent scalding and keep the water heater from overworking for an unnecessarily high temperature.
Signs that your heater is malfunctioning include:
- Water that isn’t hot
- Leaking water around the tank
- Rusty water coming out of taps
- Abnormally high water or power bills
If you notice any of these signs, contact a plumber for a full diagnostic.
Water has to flow from the source to the faucet or washing machine, yet you usually don’t see the pipes everywhere. Inside the walls of the home, the pipes are safely tucked away.
Exterior walls are more likely to have frozen pipes in them than interior walls. If those pipes freeze, they could expand and burst, then leak once they begin to thaw.
You may not even know there is a leak until you find a molded, wet catastrophe. Keeping the temperature of your house above 45 degrees even when traveling can help prevent your pipes from freezing.
For plumbing repairs in the winter months, let Jones Mechanical get your family back on track with a working water heater and pipes that do not leak. Call today to schedule your service.