Plumbing is one of the most important components of our home, but the one we take for granted the most. You never know how much you appreciate well-functioning plumbing until something goes wrong. Every time the seasons change, it affects your home’s plumbing system. In the winter, your home’s plumbing is highly susceptible to frozen pipes, burst pipes, and flooding. This winter, use these easy do-it-yourself tips to protect your home’s plumbing – compiled by the professionals at Embark.
Prevent frozen pipes.
This is one of the most important things you can do for your home this winter. Always leave a trickle of water flowing through a main faucet and leave cabinet doors open at night to allow heat to get to the pipes. Insulate pipes with heat tape or foam padding sleeves in areas they are exposed such as attics, basements, garages, crawl spaces, or outside walls.
If your pipes do freeze, work to unfreeze them as soon as possible. The longer they stay frozen, the more opportunity the ice has to expand, putting pressure on your pipes, and causing them to burst. Know the location of your home’s main water valve. If a pipe does burst, you will need to shut off your home’s water immediately and call a professional.
Prepare for travel.
Coming home to frozen or burst pipes and a flooded home is not a good way to end a vacation. Before you leave, either shut off the water to your home or have someone regularly check to make sure no pipes have frozen. If you do leave your water on, leave your home warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing. Do not turn off the heat in your home.
The best way to prevent clogs is to remember the acronym FOG. It stands for fats, oils, and grease. These are the three things that should never be put down your kitchen sink or garbage disposal. It is also a good idea to regularly pour a natural drain clearing solution down your drain to help break-up potential clogs.
White vinegar and water or baking soda and water make great, safe to use, solutions. Always remember to turn on and run water down the garbage disposal for about 15 seconds before and after using it to completely flush anything left in the disposal.
Prevent hot water heater breakdowns.
The worst thing that can happen when you go to take a shower in the winter is for your hot water heater to not be working. Prevent unit breakdowns by regularly having it professionally serviced.
Your water heater should also be drained at least once a year to prevent sediment build-up in the bottom. When sediment builds up it requires your water heater to work harder, leading to premature breakdowns or necessary replacement.
Leaks make pipes more prone to freezing in the winter. As a result, a small leak can turn into a major problem in the winter if it freezes. At the beginning of each season, check toilets, showers, bathtubs and sinks for links. If you notice a leak this winter, have it repaired as soon as possible to prevent further – or more serious damage.
Check the sump pump.
The sump pump is your home’s last line of defense if flooding occurs. It rids the house of pooling water and protects against mold and mildew. Each season, check the sump pump for signs of dirt build-up and flow issues. It’s always a good idea to test the sump pump to make sure it is flowing away from your house and effectively pumping water out before you really need it.
Prepare your outside plumbing.
Your outside faucets and sprinkler systems are the most exposed part of your home’s plumbing this winter. If left unprotected, it can lead to big problems later on. Drain any water hoses and the sprinkler system to make sure no water is left in the pipes. Then, make sure all outside water valves are turned off.