Fall is just around the corner which means it is time to get your home plumbing system ready for winter. As the leaves change color and the temperatures drop, it is important to make sure your pipes, gutters and faucets are in good working order. Many plumbing problems can be prevented with basic maintenance before winter arrives. To help you get your home ready, we have put together our list of Fall Plumbing Tips. Be sure to keep checking back here over the next several weeks for them.
FALL PLUMBING TIP 1: DISCONNECT OUTDOOR HOSES
You won’t be doing too much watering once the weather changes so remove your outdoor hoses. This will prevent interior pipes connected to the outside water faucets from freezing and possibly bursting when winter hits.
FALL PLUMBING TIP 2: CHECK OUTDOOR FAUCETS FOR DRIPS & LEAKS
Make sure none of your exterior faucets have been damaged over the warmer months. Check them for leaks and drips. If they are all in working order, shut them off completely and shut off your exterior water valve.
FALL PLUMBING TIP 3: PROTECT YOUR OUTDOOR FAUCETS
Outdoor faucets are particularly vulnerable to freezing in colder temperatures so give them extra protection against the cold. Wrap external faucets in Styrofoam or hose bibbs to keep them warm.
FALL PLUMBING TIP 4: CLEAN YOUR GUTTERS
Use a gutter shovel to scoop out fallen leaves and debris. Be extremely careful. Never lean out away from your ladder as you are cleaning your gutters. If you have any doubt about your ability to clean your gutters safely, hire a professional.
FALL PLUMBING TIP 5: PROTECT YOUR PIPES
Inspect all of your home’s plumbing pipes to make sure they are properly insulated. It is not just external pipes that are vulnerable to freezing in the winter. Interior pipes can lack insulation as well and if they freeze and burst you’re looking at a HUGE problem.
FALL PLUMBING TIPS 6: DRAIN & CHECK YOUR WATER HEATER
As we move into the colder months, your water heater will be working much harder to provide hot water. Be sure it is in top shape by draining and checking your water heater. Shut off the power and water supply valve. Carefully drain the tank by connecting a hose to the drain valve and running it to a nearby drain. Be sure you empty out the old water. Draining & flushing the water heater removes sediment buildup which block proper heat transfer and damages your water heater. This will help lengthen the life of your water heater. It will also enhance its heating efficiency, keeping your showers nice and hot!
FALL PLUMBING TIPS 7: CHECK INDOOR FAUCETS AND FIXTURES
The start of fall is a great time to make sure all your internal faucets and fixtures are working properly. Check your sinks, toilets, faucets, showerheads, and other fixtures for leaks and damage. If you find any issues get them repaired before winter hits.
FALL PLUMBING TIPS 8: CHECK YOUR SUMP PUMP
To check your sump pump, Pour a bucket of water on it and check to see that it turns on and pumps the water out. If your sump pump is not working properly, or if you notice dampness or foul odors, call a professional plumber. A well-maintained sump pump has less risk of damage during the winter.
FALL PLUMBING TIPS 9: INTERIOR SHUT OFF
Your home may be equipped with an interior shut-off valve that is connected to the outside faucets and plumbing. Shut off the interior valve and open the outdoor faucet valve to ensure there is no remaining water in the line that could freeze.
FALL PLUMBING TIPS 10: SEAL ANY GAPS
In areas where pipes enter your home it is normal to find gaps between the walls and the pipes that develop over time. These gaps allow cold air to enter the interior of the home. This will drive up your energy bills and could even cause pipes to freeze and burst. Check the exterior of your home for everywhere a pipe enters. If you find a gap fill it with weather stripping, caulking, and insulation.
FALL PLUMBING TIPS 11: TEST YOUR WATER HEATER’S PRESSURE RELIEF VALVE
Carefully test the water heater’s pressure relief valve (Danger: water is very hot) by lifting up on the lever and letting it snap back. The valve should allow a burst of hot water into the drain pipe. If not, call a professional to have a new valve installed. Caution: if your water heater is more than five years old and the pressure relief valve has never been tested, you can actually cause a leak by testing older valves that have corroded or stuck seals. A plumber should be consulted.
FALL PLUMBING TIPS 12: CHECK THE TEMPERATURE SETTING ON YOUR WATER HEATER’S THERMOSTAT
As with your heating and air conditioning system, there are optimal temperatures for your water heater. Set your water heater to 120°F for optimum performance.
FALL PLUMBING TIPS 13: SHUT OFF THE MAIN WATER VALVE WHEN LEAVING THE HOME FOR AN EXTENDED TIME
If you head out of town to visit grandma or find a warmer climate be sure to shut off the main water valve and drain excess water from the system by opening the faucets at the highest and lowest points in the home. Be sure the heat remains on and set to no lower than 55°F.