Did you get around to winterizing your plumbing? If not, it’s not too late to avoid unpleasant plumbing surprises. Cold weather is notoriously rough on plumbing systems. There are sure to be more days when the mercury dips and water freezes. Here are a few ways to make sure your home is ready for cold weather.
First of all, head outside. Disconnect all hoses, drain them and put them away; any leftover water trapped in them can freeze, expand, and ruin your equipment. Check your faucets to make sure they are not dripping, leaking or cracking. Frozen pipes and expanding ice turn minor cracks into major leaks. If your home is equipped with a shut-off valve for your exterior faucets, close it. It’s also a good idea to get a foam faucet insulation kit and use it to cover your outdoor faucets.
The Water Heater
Cooler temperatures force your water heater to work harder. Giving it an annual checkup and maintenance is a good idea. You should flush out your heater to remove sediment buildup. You can do this yourself or consult a professional plumber for help. Ensure the temperature setting is at 120 degrees for optimal performance.
You should also test your water heater’s pressure relief valve; lift up on the lever and let it snap back into place. If it is working correctly, a burst of hot water should flow into the drainpipe. If not, have a new valve installed. Be careful because the water will be extremely hot. If the heater is older than five years and the valve has never been tested, you can cause a leak by testing it.
You may want to consult a plumber to test the valve.
Pumps and Gutters
Keeping your gutters clear and clean can prevent drainage problems. Debris-free gutters will drain properly even as it freezes and thaws throughout the winter and spring. Also, if you have a sump pump, inspect and clean it.
If you will be leaving home for an extended period, leave the heat on. Set the thermostat for at least 55 degrees. This protects pipes and keeps your home from becoming damp and musty. You may also want to drain your home’s entire pipe system by shutting off the main valve and leaving your faucets open.
Prepare your home for the next freeze. Set aside a weekend afternoon to complete your chores, or contact a plumber to help you out.