Things Every Homeowner Can Do to Avoid Winter Plumbing Disasters
Most homeowners do everything that they can to maintain the integrity of their homes. As they prepare for the winter months, many will trim trees that are either on or hanging over their roofs, clean out the gutters of their homes and have their chimneys swept. Routine maintenance and upkeep also requires many homeowners to have a technician come out to check their heating and air conditioning units. Most people tend to ignore the pipes and plumbing fixtures in their homes when they are checking off their list of things to evaluate when preparing for the winter months. Here are some winter plumbing tips every homeowner needs to consider as they prepare their home for the cold.
What Could Happen If the Plumbing in a Home is Not Properly Maintained?
One of the things that people need to be cognizant of is that they have pipes and plumbing fixtures that are on the outside of their homes, and in spaces like basements and garages that have temperatures that at times could be colder than the temperature outside. Frigid temperatures could cause pipes to freeze and then rupture, leaving the homeowner with running water all over their carpets and floors. This could cause water damage to not only the flooring in the home, but also to furniture, appliances, and other items. In addition, homeowners may also find themselves faced with the following issues when their plumbing is not properly maintained.
- An excessively high water bill
- Drains that are frequently clogged
- Sinks and bathtubs that drain slowly
- The inconvenience of not having hot water inside of the home
- The risk of water contamination
How Winter Plumbing Maintenance in the Home Benefits Homeowners:
When the plumbing in a home is properly maintained, the occupants of the structure have little worries about stepping into a cold shower because the hot water heater has stopped working, or the duct work underneath the home has been damaged or is leaking. Ensuring that the plumbing in a home is properly functioning, reduces the risk of overflowing toilets and illnesses related to contact with raw sewage like Salmonellosis, Hepatitis A, and Hookworm Infection just to name a few. Other benefits afforded to homeowners who do routine maintenance on their plumbing include:
- Being able to avoid costly repairs related to improper maintenance resulting in plumbing emergencies
- Avoiding the costs associated with having to replace carpeting, hardwood and laminate flooring, and appliances
- Extending the longevity of pipes and fixtures
- Having the peace of mind in knowing that hot water is available to take care of their needs
- Avoiding the risk of an electrical fire or electrocution
- Maintaining a safe water supply for drinking, and to take care of other needs
- Lower electric bills
What Homeowners Can Do:
Homeowners who take the time to weigh the pros and the cons of properly maintaining the pipes and plumbing fixtures in their homes should easily come to the conclusion that it is far better to maintain the integrity of their plumbing systems than it is ignore it. Plumbing emergencies can lead to much larger problems than water damage. Standing water inside of basements, garages and underneath houses threaten and ultimately weaken the foundation of structures. Here are some tips that every homeowner should follow to prepare their home for the winter months.
- Locate the shut off valve – Every homeowner and the occupants of their home should know where the shut off valve is located. If there is an emergency like the bursting of a pipe, the valve should be shut off to cut off the water flow. If there is a special tool that is needed to open and close the valve, it should be located in a central place that is easily accessible.
- Increase water heater temperature – As temperatures drop so do the temperatures of water heaters in homes. Increasing the temperature of water heaters by a few degrees will keep water hot during the coldest of days.
- Insulate pipes – Insulating pipes that are exposed to the outside or in areas like basements and garages will safeguard them from the elements and help prevent freezing.
- Run water – In cases of extreme cold run water from every valve to avoid frozen pipes.
- Stop the flow of outside air – Check for incoming air in attics and crawl spaces and seal them with heat tape.
- Clear the snow – Remove any snow that collects in areas around water drains
- Disconnect hoses and drains – Disconnect garden hoses before the winter months begin.
- Keep numbers handy – Keep numbers to utility companies in a place that is easily accessible in case of an emergency that requires them to have to disconnect water from the main water line.
Pipes and fixtures should be examined by a professional plumbing service at least once a year to check for leaks, and to ensure that valves are intact. Other common sense measures that homeowners can take to ensure that they stay free and clear of plumbing disasters include keeping drains clear of hair grease, and other debris by using an enzyme drain maintenance cleaner at least once a month.