Fall Plumbing Checklist for your Home
The days are getting cooler here in Colorado Springs! Fall is here, and winter follows closely behind, bringing with it snowfall and ice sheets. As beautiful as Colorado winters can be, they can be incredibly harsh with the high altitude, the feet upon feet of snow, and the temperature dropping well below the freezing point. The plumbing system in your home can be vulnerable to the wintertime if it has not been properly maintained during the past seasons. Pipes can freeze, water heaters can malfunction, leaks can burst: there are many issues that can arise if the home is not prepared.
That’s why we’ve created the number one Fall Checklist for your home to ensure that you do not have any plumbing problems during the winter. Follow these quick, DIY maintenance steps to prep your home while the weather is still warm!
1. Check Outdoor Faucets
Dripping outdoor faucets are one of the leading causes for frozen pipes in the winter. The gradual leaking won’t affect your home too much in summer time, but once the temperature reaches its freezing point, that drip-drip-drip will turn into ice, and that ice will start expanding all the way up your faucet and into the piping in your home. Before the weather turns cool, walk around your house and make sure all those faucets and spigots are tightly shut off. You can use a wrench to do this if the handle needs more force than your hand. If there is a persistent leak after the fact, call a local plumber to come and replace the valve stem assembly.
2. Put Away the Water Hoses
Once the weather cools, it is time to fully disconnect and put away all outdoor hoses that are laying around, especially if they are connected to an outdoor faucet. If left alone, the leftover water in the body of the hose can begin to freeze, and that ice will slowly expand and potentially cause your pipes to burst.
3. Shut off your Sprinkler System
If you have an underground sprinkler system, it is best to get those turned off completely by a professional. Even if the sprinklers are not turning on in the winter, the water line is still connected if the system is left on. This could cause irreparable damage to your sprinkler heads if the underground system gets frozen. It is best to fully shut off the water to the system to ensure that nothing gets harmed during wintertime.
4. Clean the Gutters
While not directly a plumbing issue, clearing debris from your gutters and downspouts can be a significant help during the winter to keep your drainage system from clogging and freezing. If you are able to do so safely, clear your gutters from all branches, leaves, clotted dirt, and any other debris that has collected over the summer. Make sure all your downspouts are clear as well, so that they have a clear pathway for proper drainage once that winter ice begins to melt.
5. Inspect and Maintenance the Water Heater
Once you’ve completed your outdoor plumbing inspection, it’s time to move indoors. Wintertime prompts your water heater to work overtime, which means it is best to complete any water heater maintenance before the weather turns cold. It would be very unpleasant if you ran out of hot water during December. To begin your inspection, check the age of your water heater. If it is older than 10 years, it is time to get your water heater replaced. If it is still in its peak years, you can maintenance your water heater by flushing it. To flush a water heater, you need to follow a series of steps:
Locate your breaker box and turn off the electricity that is connected to your water heater.
Turn off the cold water supply at the top of your water heater.
Turn on the hot water in a nearby sink or tub. This will prevent a vacuum from forming.
Attach a hose to the bottom of the tank and put the other end outside, near a drain, or in a large bucket. If you use buckets, you will have to watch carefully to replace the bucket with another one when it gets full.
Open the drain cock to release the water from the tank.
Flushing your water heater has many benefits for your plumbing system. It not only allows you to check the pressure of the water, but also check for any debris or particles that may be in the water. Flushing also extends the life of your water heater, as it removes any build-up inside the tank. This prevents future corrosion and consequential aging for your heater.
6. Inspect and Insulate Pipes
Head to any places that you know are unheated and accessible, where pipes may be exposed. Places like your attic, crawl space, and garage usually have pipes that need to be inspected yearly. Check for any signs of leakage in these areas. If you see signs like stained drywall, pools of water, or an apparently dripping pipe, it’s time to call in your local plumber. Having a leaky pipe now is bad, but it will be ten times worse in the winter when everything freezes.
You should also insulate these exposed pipes if they are not already insulated. This will prevent them from getting too cold in the winter and keep your plumbing system flowing effectively. You can wrap the pipes with heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables to help.
7. Inspect the Sump Pump
Another thing that is prone to freezing is your home’s sump pump. This is a system that needs an inspection and proper maintenance annually. You can do this yourself, or you can call in a knowledgably plumber to do a proper evaluation to prepare your home for winter.
After completing these steps, your home should be ready for the cold! If you are looking to schedule autumn maintenance for your plumbing system, Jolly Plumbing has been servicing residential plumbing sites for nearly 60 years. We can do a proper inspection, complete any necessary repairs, and give you advice on what to do for the coming winter months. Contact us today to schedule your Fall Inspection!
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