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How To Prepare Your Plumbing For Winter

Our homes don’t just need us to keep them clean and uncluttered; they also require a bit of care to maintain them properly. One important part of home maintenance we often forget about is plumbing. Winter can be rough on our water systems. Freezing temperatures cause pipes to burst and crack, sometimes without us even knowing it until the damage is done. Nobody ever wishes for the damages to occur, especially when it comes to vital plumbing aspects such as water pressure backups since many property owners have widely incorporated them. In fact, according to NDSU, water pressure backups have risen in popularity to enhance protection in properties being an essential safety device even though they cannot replace a standard sump pump since they can only move 12 to 14 gallons per minute. Therefore, when it comes to such essential plumbing aspects, it is always good to prepare your plumbing for winter so that you do not get disappointments down the road. To avoid costly plumbing repairs or replacements caused by winter weather, here are ten tips that will help you prepare your plumbing for winter:

Inspect Plumbing Fixtures Regularly

Winter can take a huge toll on our fixtures. As the water slowly freezes inside the piping system, where slight expansion causes the pipe joints or shut-off valves to fracture, you need to make sure your plumbing fixtures are inspected and maintained. Inspect your faucet’s rubber gaskets, washers, and screens; replace parts as needed. If you have a metal fixture (sink or bathtub), check the condition of the mounting nuts and bolts to make sure they don’t need tightening. Make sure your drain is free of any debris that may clog it up.

Protect Your Outdoor Fixtures

If you have an outdoor water/ice-maker line, shut off the main valve before temperatures reach 32 degrees Fahrenheit. If there are exposed copper pipes outside, wrap them with insulation to maintain proper temperatures year-round. A garden hose hooked up to an exterior faucet can also work as a makeshift heating system for exposed pipes before the first freeze occurs.

Turn Your Water Valves Off

To protect your home from freezing pipes, you should also turn off all your inside valves attached to the water meter. If there’s a valve stem and cap and it looks like they can be removed by hand, do so and then wrap them in newspaper or paper towels to keep them dry and in good condition. If you’re unsure whether these valves go outside, be safe and shut them down anyway to be on the safe side. This will help prevent cracking if your home freezes from the inside out through any leaks in your plumbing system. Make sure when winter is over to check the valve stems again for excessive frost build-up if you had to shut them down.

Drain Your Pipes

Colder temperatures can cause condensation in your pipes that could lead to rusty or dirty water, not to mention the unpleasant odor it brings with it. To avoid this, run cold water in all of your faucets for about five minutes during the last few hours before you go to bed to flush out all of this excess water trapped inside your plumbing system. You can also leave a bucket under any exposed indoor plumbing fixtures overnight, which will help decrease mildew and mold growth by collecting any collected water vapors. This will also prevent stains on carpeting if any leaks do occur.

Look For Leaks Year-Round

While you’re at it checking for excess water build-up, take a glance around your home to see if you can spot any leaks that have been cropping up throughout the year. Pay close attention to areas where your plumbing components are attached, as well as along pipe seams. If you do notice any damp spots or discoloration on your walls, ceilings, floors, or carpeting anywhere in the house, then it’s time to call a plumber because chances are you have a leak somewhere in your pipes.

Fix Dripping Faucets

Dripping faucets not only waste money and resources by adding extra stress on your water bill through unnecessarily high consumption, but they also bring fungus and bacteria into your home since excess moisture builds up around them. To avoid this, make sure all your faucets are drip-free during the winter months by adding insulation around them. If you need to replace any washers or fix any leaks, this is the perfect time of year to do it since there’s no hot water running through them.

Fix Leaking Showerheads

A dripping shower head isn’t only an eyesore; it’s also pretty wasteful in terms of resources and money. However, suppose you live in a hard water area where calcium deposits build up on the inside of fixtures. In that case, regular maintenance is required to avoid these problems from occurring as often as possible. To those who have been putting off cleaning their shower head for this reason, now would be a good time to pick up some calcium, lime, and rust remover. Experts recommend using a toothbrush to scrub away the build-up before rinsing it off with water.

Keep the Toilet Tank Full

Keeping your toilet tank filled during the winter months will also help keep your home warm through insulation. This is because heat rises, which means that if you have a cold floor in certain rooms, keeping the tank full will allow less heat loss from the lower half of your plumbing system. It’s also important to note that if you have recently had any repairs on your commode or fill valves, this is not recommended since the extra pressure could cause them to fail prematurely.

Winterize Your Septic System

If you have a septic system, then it’s vital to winterize it just like you would your pipes since there’s an increased chance of water freezing in your tank and pipes. To protect them from the elements, buy a special type of anti-freeze at most hardware stores that will flush out in your toilet when mixed with water and poured down the basin. Follow the directions on this product carefully; otherwise, you could cause more damage than good since some products require certain conditions for them to work properly. On another note, make sure you don’t use anti-freeze in your plumbing that contains any additives such as blue dye or grain alcohol. This is harmful to plants and aquatic life when flushed into lakes or rivers, which can happen if you dump it into the sink since many of these products are not biodegradable.

Take Care of Your Pipes

During periods where there’s a risk of pipes freezing, leave one faucet dripping so that water continues to run through them. Just ensure you know which fixture this is first by turning off all other indoor and outdoor water valves until you find out where the drip originates. It’s also important to call a plumber during this time if you do notice any leaks or spot discoloration on your walls or floors anywhere in the house because it could lead to structural damage if left alone.

We understand that you are busy, but taking care of your house is important. During the winter, you can do things such as the ones mentioned above to prepare your home for freezing temperatures and potential water pipe bursts. When spring comes around, you will be thanking yourself for taking the necessary steps to protect your home.

If you have always been stranded on preparing your plumbing for winter, kindly be sure to call us when you do not know how to approach the situation. We offer all sorts of plumbing services to our clients at affordable prices. If you are preparing your plumbing for winter, we will ensure that we inspect every part of your property and do what is required so that we do not leave any stone unturned. This way, we will give you the confidence of not having to worry about your plumbing when this season approaches. Therefore, do not hesitate to contact us since we will be more than glad to serve you.


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