Typically fall temperatures are fairly mild, which makes it enjoyable to work outdoors or even in some of the areas of your home that aren’t climate controlled. While the summer months are for action and inspection of your home, the fall is the time to batten down the hatches and ensure your home will be cozy and comfortable all winter long. With that in mind here are some tips for making sure the plumbing of your home is prepared for the cold Northeastern winter months.
Can you imagine your pipes bursting inside your home because you forget to disconnect the water hose that is connected to the outside spigot? This can happen and does happen more frequently than most of us would like to admit. It’s important to disconnect these hoses and drain them of any free standing water to prevent breakage. When you do this you need to also make sure the outside faucets aren’t dripping or leaking at all. If you find a leak you should call a professional right away to have this taken care of and help prevent the waste of water unnecessarily.
Another measure you need to take is the insulation of pipes and faucets. Your outside faucets should be covered with a Styrofoam insulation kit that you can find at most home centers. As for your pipes, you need to take care of the pipes that are exposed to extreme temperatures. If you have pipes that run under your home or in the garage you should insulate them properly with the fiberglass insulation, heat tape or thermostat controlled heat cables. This preventive measure can save you thousands of dollars later on by preventing your pipes from bursting which would cause you to be without running water for a lengthy period of time and have a severely damaged home.
The fall is the perfect season to flush out your water heater. This tank works overtime during the winter to keep you supplied with hot water and by flushing it out in the fall you will help remove the sediment buildup that may cause corrosion and shorten the time it can be in service. This buildup also reduces the efficiency with which the water heater can perform causing you to enjoy less hot water at times when more of your household needs it than any other; during the winter months.
After you flush the water heater you should test the pressure relief valve of the water heater to make sure it works properly. Carefully lift up on the lever and allow it to snap back into place to allow a burst of hot water to enter the drainpipe. If this doesn’t happen you need to call a plumber and have a new valve installed, which is certainly better caught now than during the cold winter months. Now is also the time to ensure the water heater has a temperature setting of 120 degrees to provide you with the best performance.
If you have a sump pump you need to clean the pit. If the pit is blocked the water will have nowhere to go but back inside your home where you don’t want it to be. This is also a great time to test your sump pump and make sure it will work for you when the winter snow begins to thaw and lead to the spring months. This simple cleanout will ensure your sump pump is ready to charge into action when faced with water that is rising above an acceptable level below your home.
Another tip that doesn’t have to do with plumbing but will help prevent water damage is to clean the leaves and any debris from your gutters and downspouts. Ensuring these areas are clean and free of the fall leaves will ensure water isn’t blocked in the gutters and left there to freeze, which can cause damage to the gutters and eventually to hour home if backed up far enough. Another overall preventative tip is to set your home to no lower than 55 degrees and shut the main water valve off when you leave your home for an extended period of time so you don’t come home to a surprise flood inside your home.
By following these guidelines you can ensure your home plumbing system will continue to be fully functional for you during the winter months. It’s important to make sure your home will be able to handle the harshness of winter; frozen pipes and leaks are not something you want to be faced with when the temperatures drop below or near freezing.