Winter Plumbing Maintenance Tips
November 3, 2017
The early October snowstorm may have had many in the Denver area pining for the snowy slopes and dusting off their snow skis in anticipation of early winter, only to be disappointed by the return of warmer fall temperatures.
Though it’s still not the season for snow skis, it is the season to prepare your home’s plumbing for the winter ahead. Dramatic temperature shifts in the Front Range wreak havoc on home plumbing and can lead to leaks or burst pipes that threaten more widespread property damage.
Often, these winter plumbing issues are avoidable. By following a few easy steps, and performing a thorough inspection of your plumbing now, you could save yourself—and your property—from a costly winter plumbing surprise.
PERFORM AN INSPECTION
Among the most important steps to take is to inspect your home and basement plumbing before winter arrives. If there’s a problem, you’ll want it fixed sooner, rather than later.
Start with bathrooms and kitchens. Inspect sinks and faucets, both above and below the cabinet. When looking under the cabinet, look for leaking water or worn pipes or fittings. Check faucets for drips, and ensure that water is draining and that drains are free from clogs.
WINTERIZE PIPES AND FAUCETS
Walk around the outside of the house, inspecting each outdoor faucet for leaks, loose fittings or signs of damage. If you have a shutoff valve for outdoor watering pipes or spigots, close the valves and drain the water lines. Remove any hoses attached to outdoor spigots. Lastly, outdoor spigots should be covered with a foam insulator for the winter. Special foam boots for this purpose are sold at most hardware stores.
Next, winterize plumbing in unheated areas, including basements, crawl spaces and garages by performing a visual inspection. Use an insulated tape to protect exposed pipes in these areas. If there’s a sump pump in the basement, clean the pump pit and inspect the pump.
The water heater in most homes is always working, and in the cold months of winter, it’ll work overtime. Prepare it for the extra duty by performing regular maintenance. Drain the tank and flush it of sediment. Sediment not only causes corrosion but also adds to home energy costs. The water heater temperature should be set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
WINTER PLUMBING TIPS
In addition to the steps above, there are some winter-weather practices that can help prevent plumbing problems during the coldest winter storms.
During cold snaps, it’s a good idea to leave cabinet doors below kitchen and bathroom sinks open, and leave faucets running at a trickle.
Make sure to heat the whole house, rather than certain rooms. This not only helps protect plumbing but also is often more energy efficient. Interior walls of the home are not made for low-temperature exposure like the exterior walls.
Be sure to eliminate drafts. This not only helps protect plumbing from exposure to low temperatures but can also help save on energy costs.
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