There’s no denying the fact that the winter season brings some chilly temperatures to the Connecticut area. Unfortunately, these cool temperatures can be detrimental to your plumbing system. You can help to greatly minimize your risk of experiencing a plumbing issue by implementing our helpful wintertime plumbing preparation steps.
Take Care of Your Outside Hoses
If you’re like most homeowners, you have an outdoor faucet or two where you can connect your hose for gardening and other outside features. However, it’s important to realize that leaving your hose on during the wintertime can lead to a frozen waterline and a damaged hose.
It’s best to drain your existing hoses and turn off the valve to your outdoor water faucet. Make sure that you let it completely drain backward at your relief valve so that all of the water is out of your piping. While simply shutting off the water to your outdoor valve will prevent any more from flowing to it, you don’t want to leave water in that piping as it’s exposed to the frigid temperatures in the sections that run outdoors.
Conversely, you can save yourself the trouble of draining your outdoor faucet line if you invest in a frost-free faucet. These faucets are specifically designed with materials that keep the water from freezing. They’re great when you still need to have access to your outdoor faucet during the colder weather. Additionally, they can be super helpful if you constantly forget to turn off the valve and drain your outdoor faucet lines.
Inspect Your Pipes
Before the winter season hits, it’s a good time to go around your home and inspect all of your piping. You want to take note of any areas that have leaks that need to be addressed. Additionally, you’ll want to pay attention to sections of your water lines that don’t have adequate insulation. It’s best to make a list of all of these issues so that you don’t forget to address them.
Fix Your Leaks
Water leaks can be a real hazard any time of the year. However, in the winter months, the coldness can seep into your piping and cause the water to freeze quickly. Not only will this restrict your ability to get fresh water, but it can also lead to a burst pipe. You’ll want to contact a plumbing professional to address the various leaks that you’ve found throughout your home before the cold winter weather hits.
Add Insulation Where Necessary
As a general rule of thumb, it doesn’t hurt to add insulation to all exposed areas of your water lines. These are going to be lines that are constructed of copper or PEX. If these lines are inside your home, then you can typically get away with insulation sheath covering. This is a round foam section that simply slides over your existing piping material. You can easily cut it to fit any section of piping that you need.
In areas where your piping runs in an area that is exposed to cold outdoor air, like in your garage, all pipes need to be properly insulated. Depending on how cold the temperatures get, you may be able to get away with simple foam sheathing, or you may need to invest in more intricate options. For example, there are piping heating cords that can safely be wrapped around your piping. Most come with a built-in thermostat that turns on the heat when temperatures get near freezing to prevent the water from freezing up on you.
Clean Your Garbage Disposal
If you have a garbage disposal in your kitchen, it’s best to give it a thorough cleaning before the winter months arrive. You can do this with an over-the-counter cleaning solution, or you can opt for a more natural solution of baking soda and vinegar. This will not only help take care of any lingering smells, but it will also work to clear out any unwanted debris that could lead to a clog.
Flush Your Water Heater
As water comes into your water heater, any sediments can get stuck inside your tank. Over time, these sediments will settle at the bottom of your tank and can end up creating issues like prematurely failing heating elements and even corrosion at the bottom of the tank. It’s best to flush this sediment out each year to prevent these unwanted scenarios.
Know What to Do During Cold Snaps
Now is a great time to remind yourself of what you need to be doing during cold snaps. When temperatures dip way below the norm, it greatly increases the chance of your water lines freezing. Your best bet is to open up any hidden water lines, like those underneath your kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
If possible, consider running a space heater to help heat up these spaces if they’re extremely cold. Another great practice when it’s going to be extremely cold is to let your faucet drip. This will help keep water moving through your pipes and greatly reduce their risk of freezing up on you.
Seal Rim Joists
When you’re in your basement, you’ll want to look for areas where your water line exits your rim joist. This is the joist that sits at the exterior-most portion of your home. The pipe will go through the rim joist and out to the exterior of your home.
Many times, the area around the rim joist can leave exposed air gaps. You’ll want to use a spray foam or a similar type of insulating material to seal up those rim joists. This will go a long way in keeping the cold air outside and away from your indoor water lines.
Be Mindful When Leaving for Long Periods
If you regularly travel during the cold winter season, it’s imperative that you shut off your main water valve. If one of your pipes ends up freezing and bursting, you can minimize the damage by simply making sure that only the existing water in your pipes can leak.
Without shutting off your valve, a constant supply of water could continue to create damage to your home until a neighbor or the water authority notices that there is an issue. While you may think that your heating system will keep your home warm enough to prevent frozen pipes, your heat can malfunction. If your heater shuts off, your pipes are susceptible to freezing and bursting while you’re away on vacation and not knowing what’s really happening at your home.
Get Your Sewer Drain Cleaned By a Professional
Before the winter season arrives, it’s a good time to schedule your annual sewer drain cleaning. This will help clear out any debris that is stuck within your sewer drain lines before they create a clog in your system. No one wants to deal with a clogged sewer line during the winter months.
Reliable Plumbing Services
F.F. Hitchcock Plumbing, Heating & Cooling offers reliable plumbing services for Cheshire, CT and surrounding regions. We can help with all of your heating, cooling, and fuel needs. Simply contact us today to get the help that you need with your home.