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Plumbing Tips: Fall & Winter Plumbing Tips For Cold Weather

Plumbing Tips: Fall & Winter Plumbing Tips For Cold Weather

Fall and early winter is the best time to prepare your home’s plumbing for the coming cold temperatures ahead. As the weather begins to cool off, it would be a good idea to establish some good plumbing habits to protect your home. Here are a few things that you should do to prepare for the change in seasons: 

House basement old drain pipe for fall plumbing example.

Fall & Winter Plumbing Tips for Outside your House

  • Keep your gutters free from leaves and debris – if they get clogged it can create drainage problems. Rain water can overflow over the gutters and land on the ground around your house and then it is more likely to seep into your foundation, basement or crawl space.
  • Unhook outdoor hoses, drain with gravity, and store in your garage, or someplace that does not go below freezing temperatures. This will prevent your hoses from cracking. When spring arrives you won’t have to buy new ones to replace the ones that did not survive winter.
  • Get your sewer line cleaned and snaked. If you have a septic tank, now would be a good time to get your septic tank pumped. There are recommendation for how often this service is needed, and though it is a an item not often thought about, it is best to be proactive and keep the system running the way it was designed to do.

Fall & Winter Plumbing Tips for Inside your House

  • Insulate your pipes so that they are less likely to freeze. Check for the most susceptible areas to address. A frozen pipe means no water flow. If it is accessible, you can then attempt to thaw it with applied heat – but the increased mass of the internal ice could have caused a leak and create more than just a slight inconvenience.
  • Know where your main water valve is, and how to shut it off. In the event that a pipe bursts, knowing how to shut off the water could save you thousands of dollars. Also, it is wise not to just keep this info to yourself. Give a tour of the basement to your significant other, an older child or a trusted neighbor and draw a little basement map with emergency instructions. If you are away when something bad and unexpected happens with your plumbing, you don’t want someone uninformed to enter your basement with water spraying everywhere – and not know where to immediately go to shut off the main water valve.

Hose tap outside of house as fall plumbing example.

Fall & Winter Plumbing Tips for Water Heaters

  • Your water heater works harder in the colder months. Flush out any sediment that has accumulated in your water heater. This will extend its lifespan and increase efficiency to save you money.
  • Test the pressure relief valve by lifting up on the lever and letting it snap back. This should send a burst of hot water into the drainpipe. If not, you may need a new pressure relief valve. Be careful when doing this because the water will be very hot.
  • Set your water heater’s temperature to 120 degrees F for safety and efficiency. If you have children at home or visiting, higher temperatures can cause burns just washing dirty hands.
  • Modern on-demand hot water heaters have their own service recommendations, and it is best to be familiar with your manufacturer owner’s manual.

Hot water heater in the basement as fall plumbing example.

Fall & Winter Plumbing Tips for Kitchen Sinks

  • Once a month, pour 1 gallon of bleach down either side of your kitchen sink, wait 20 minutes, fill both sides of your kitchen sink to the rim with hot water, and then remove the stoppers simultaneously. The volume and weight of the water will help flush the drain lines free of grease, preventing a stoppage. Send all those potato peels, scrambled eggs and other food debris out of the small drainpipe so that water from your sink and dishwasher (which usually uses the same drain) flows out easily.

Kitchen sink drain as a plumbing tip example.

So that’s our list of fall & early winter plumbing tips for the residential home owner. If anything happens that makes you feel like you are in over your heads – that’s when it’s recommended that you call a professional. A skilled and well trained plumber has already experienced all the things that can go wrong – even when you undertaking what at first might appear to be a relatively simple plumbing task. They have the knowledge, confidence and tools to remedy any plumbing issue. Plumbers also often deal with propane and gas appliances, and for items like these that have big safety issues – for your own and your family’s peace of mind – some tasks, repairs and maintenance are best not done by yourself.

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