Extreme temperature changes, humidity fluctuations, and family gatherings can all take a toll on your plumbing system during the winter months. Homeowners who aren’t careful might end up needing help from a plumber to deal with issues such burst pipes, clogs, or freezing showers at the worst possible times. Here is a look at five simple tasks that will keep your plumbing system working smoothly no matter what the weather is like outside.
1. Invest in Drain Screens
If you plan on having any family or friends over during the holiday season, then you might want to invest in drain screens for your showers, bathtubs, and sinks. These small devices are nothing more than metal screens that fit into the drain and catch any debris that could potentially clog the pipes. They can be purchased at most home improvement stores, and tools aren’t needed to install them. You should also ask your family and guests to keep items such as food scraps, oils, paper towels, and hygiene products out of your sinks and toilets.
2. Insulate Exposed Pipes
One of the most common causes of burst pipes is extreme temperature changes. When the water becomes frozen, it will put a tremendous amount of pressure on the pipes. While most pipes are designed to withstand quite a bit of wear and tear, they might eventually burst if they expand and contract every season. Insulating your pipes with strips of polyethylene is a simple project that can easily be carried out in a single afternoon. Pipes that are in garages and attics are the most prone to bursting, and they need to be inspected at least once every year.
3. Fix the Plumbing Leaks Early
It is much easier to fix a leaky pipe or faucet when the weather is relatively nice outside. Once the weather begins to cool off, cracks and holes will expand as the water begins to freeze around the damage. Faucet leaks and slow drips can typically be fixed by replacing the gaskets or tightening the pins. Larger cracks and holes in your pipes should only be taken care of by an experienced plumber. Most home repair kits are only designed to be temporary solutions, and damaged pipes can burst when the temperature drops below freezing.
4. Flush the Water Heater
Water heaters must be serviced multiple times a year in order to run efficiently. Just before winter, you need to completely drain and refill the water heater to get rid of any sediment. As you are draining the tank, you must allow the water to run through the system until it is completely clean. If your water heater is making any noises or producing unusual smells, then it needs to be inspected by a plumber. Those issues are generally caused by thick layers of sediment that must be removed with professional tools.
5. Prepare Outdoor Faucets
All of the faucets that will be exposed to freezing temperatures should be turned off and drained. Depending on the layout of your plumbing system, there might be a drain on each individual faucet or a single drain near the primary shut-off valve. You also need to remove all of the hoses from the faucets and store them indoors. Most plastic and rubber products aren’t designed to withstand the elements, and they will most likely become damaged if you leave them out during the winter. When hoses aren’t removed, they can create quite a bit of pressure inside the faucets and crack the gaskets or valves.