Winter is a beautiful time of year, but it’s also a time where homeowners should be cognizant of plumbing issues that can arise in the season. As colder temperatures increase substantially, freezing pipes become more of a possibility.
Frozen pipes can result in a wide variety of long-term plumbing issues. But, that’s not the only issue. Other common cold-weather plumbing dilemmas include: wasting energy, faulty water heaters, and insulation errors.
Again, every homeowner should be prepared to deal with primary plumbing problems that exist in the winter months. As colder months press on, here are eight essential winter plumbing tips you should be aware of.
1. Make Sure Outside Water Valves are Turned Off
Water pipes can potentially rupture in freezing temperatures. This can result in a very expensive dilemma that costs more than $15,000. To prevent frozen pipes, turn off all of your outside valves.
Make sure you locate outside pipes near areas of your home that aren’t insulated. These valves will typically be located around the outer walls of your home. These pipes post an extreme threat of freezing.
Therefore, they should be covered with towels or foam for the entire winter season. If temperatures drop to below freezing, it’s a great idea to let your faucets drip water slowly.
Since continuous water flow cannot freeze even in sub-zero temperatures, this will prevent a massive rupture and save you money.
2. Know Where Your Home’s Main Water Valve Is
Homeowners should know their property like the back of their hand. If you’re a new homeowner or you’re not well-versed in being a DIY handyman, this can be pretty difficult.
In case a major problem persists, you should at least know where your home’s main water valve is. If a pipe bursts due to cold temperatures, you should immediately locate the main water valve and turn all water off until the problem is fixed.
The main water valve is normally located directly next to the water meter and is always kept in good condition. To keep your main water valve working properly, service it by opening and closing it once each year.
3. Conserve Energy at a Limit
If you plan on traveling a lot during the winter months, you may be tempted to turn off your heat to save energy. However, turning off your heat for too long can increase the chances of frozen and broken pipes.
The damage associated with ruptured pipes can get worse depending on if you’re away from home for several days, weeks, or even months and the issue goes unnoticed. To prevent this problem from occurring, keep your home’s temperature no lower than 45F.
This solution allows you to prevent frozen pipes and save as much money as possible.
4. Make Sure Your Water Heater Works Correctly
Your water heater may be the most important home appliance in the winter months. You should make sure that it’s in an optimal condition to save money and prevent long-term problems.
If you want to save money on energy costs, don’t set your water heater’s temperature above 125F to eliminate scorching water and excessive energy waste.
5. Keep Your Kitchen Drains Unclogged
During the holidays, at-home meals become the norm. Later into the winter, home dinners are also the popular option over eating out. The way you dispose of this food can significantly impact your plumbing system.
For example, oils and fats should never be poured down the sink. These don’t mix with water, can harden, and can contribute to a massive clog. You can instead allow oils and fats to harden in the cooking dish and scape the remains away into the trash bin.
Also, if you plan to use a garbage disposal, turn it on first and then add the debris you want. After you’re finished, pour plenty of water down the drain to make sure there aren’t any pesky particles still in the drain.
6. Protect Your Outdoor Drains
Preparing your lawn for the winter can help prevent the negative draining effects of rain and snow. You can do this by removing all debris on your lawn and making sure your downspouts and gutters are working properly.
During the winter months, these tasks will help protect your outdoor drains and contribute to more efficient drain runoff.
7. Install Insulation
Preventing ruptured pipes is as simple as installing insulation. Insulating foam is sold at nearly every home improvement store and is very easy to place and install. Make sure an entire pipe is covered in insulation to the point where it emerges from the main water line to the point where it enters your home.
Make sure to insulate the outdoor pipes in unheated basements and attics. If you can’t perform this type of work, call a licensed plumber instead.
8. Hire a Plumber for Maintenance
Ultimately, timely maintenance is one of the best ways to make sure that your plumbing systems are working properly. Also, a licensed plumber can perform this handiwork to protect these systems and save you money in the long run.
By hiring a plumber, you can receive an itemized work order that will detail all of the maintenance work they will do to prevent widespread plumbing issues.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do you have any questions about winter plumbing issues? If so, please refer to these FAQs below.
How do I winterize my water pipes?
- Winterizing your water pumps involves blowing excess water from the pipes among other essential tasks. You should contact a licensed plumber to make sure this is done properly.
Is it safe to put antifreeze in pipes?
- You should not put antifreeze in your pipes as a means of insulation. This can damage your plumbing system.
Will pouring hot water down the drain unfreeze pipes?
- You can remedy pipes that are freezing by pouring salt and hot water down the drains. If your pipes are frozen, then you may need to contact a plumber to rectify the issue.