There are several plumbing maintenance tips that can assist in winterizing and preparing your house’s plumbing system for the winter. The following are the most highly recommended tips for winterizing your house’s plumbing system.
Take apart and disconnect all your outdoor water hoses. The water inside your outside hoses can freeze over the winter, and cause a burst pipe. If you have not disconnected the water hoses, then none of the following steps are completed either.
Disconnecting the hoses would prevent causing a breakage in them. This happens if there is water left behind in the system, which freezes, causing the hose to expand over the colder months, and crack, or possibly burst. This is a more prevalent issue especially in December to March. This is applicable to both indoor and outdoor hoses in unheated areas.
Ensure to uncouple all the outdoor hoses, even the most hidden and hard to reach ones. Depending on material of hoses they can be more susceptible to severely cracking, but all will crack if water freezes inside them, regardless of the material. Overall, leaving any hoses intact can only lead to trouble, so disconnect and uncouple all your hoses today to save water, money, and time.
Insulate any pipes or faucets in an unheated area, and after completing the following step of draining the faucets, cover and insulate the hose bibs and spigot valves as well. The exposed faucets and pipes in unheated areas in your garage, crawlspaces, and other unheated indoor places, in addition to the outdoor and yard faucets need to be covered up and insulated after being drained and shut off to prevent any of them from freezing and cracking.
There are Styrofoam insulations kits for pipes and hose bibs that are sold in home centre shops all around the Lower Mainland. If the house by any chance has any blue large pipes surrounding it, it is of utmost importance to insulate the pipes and ensure they are in no way exposed to the cold, as a simple insulation and covering of the pipes can make the difference between an intact versus a frozen and possibly burst pipes.
So, choose your next move wisely as spending a few dollars now on an insulation kit is a lot more cost effective than repairing a frozen pipe, or replacing a cracked pipe. You may think that the Greater Vancouver houses and apartments are built for the colder weather since we live in Canada. However, these tips are applicable to any residential places that have cold winters and hot summers, as the houses systems are built to maintain and stand the average point of two extreme temperatures.
Additionally, majority of the emergency calls we receive during the colder winter months are in regards to frozen pipes and faucets, so we highly recommend you take these simple steps before the cooler months ahead to prevent yourself from the headache of frozen pipes in the new year.
Drain and shut off all the outdoor faucets and hose bibs completely to prevent burst, broken, and frozen pipes in the middle of a cold winter. Drain and empty the water from all your outdoor water lines that will not be used during the cooler months.
Why do pipes burst in the winter? As discussed above, leaving water in your pipes and hoses, even a very small amount of water can freeze and expand over time, and cause a crack in the pipes and the system. This process should be followed by the above method insulation of the pipes. Next, it is important to locate your house’s shut off valve for outdoor faucets, if you house has one, then turn off the shut off valve for outside pipes and water lines after draining them completely from the outside. This would be an additional preventative method against pipes cracking and bursting due to the cooler temperatures.
Your home’s water heater also needs draining as water heater maintenance before fall and winter ahead. During the winter and the cooler months, you water heater would have to work harder to provide the hot water that you would be comfortable with. For the water heater to run efficiently, and not break down from overworking and technical “burnout”, flushing it is necessary.
Flushing your water heater unit at the start of fall would empty any sediment buildup accumulating in the water heater system, causing corrosion over time, and making the lifespan of your water heater tank shorter than it should be. You can drain the water heater through connecting a hose to the faucet and directly draining it into a drain nearby. This method can vary depending on different manufacturers.
Another way to avoid this whole process is to install a new tankless water heater that is the new solution to a lot of regular traditional water heater problems.
Inspect and clear and clean your gutters, downspouts, and sump pumps, in addition to all the exposed pipes for leaks. The build up debris and leaves in the outside gutters and downspout can cause your draining system outdoors to slow down the drainage when it freezes and thaws during the cooler seasons. The sump pump and pit also require cleaning, as when encountering very cold weather, they can freeze, and stop the pump from its normal operations.
You can start with inspecting dead shrubs and trees around the surrounding area and do maintenance regarding the branches and bushes before the cooler months ahead. You should also inspect the pipes and taps for possible leaks and anything that could cause them to burst in the cooler winter months.
Empty the previously disconnected hoses and store them in the garage or your storage. If you just leave the hoses in the backyard or on the side of the house, they are still at a high chance of bursting. Follow this process by winterizing the spigot valves, faucets, and hose bibs. Follow these step-by-step tips to winterize your hose bibs on this website.
Double check everything in the plumbing system of your house for any leaks, or even leaky toilet flappers, in addition to checking for all sorts of cracks and holes in your appliances’ hoses to have taken the proper preventive maintenance measurements.
Some of the specific places you should check for the for the cracks in the hoses of the appliances is behind the appliances in your house. This includes under the sinks in the kitchen and the bathroom and other sinks, and behind appliances such as the fridge where there are hoses. If you detect any signs of weary and old hoses, get aa professional to replace the broken hoses before the cooler months arrive.
In case of your toilet flappers, there is a test that you can use to determine whether you have a leaky toilet valve. Place a few drops of bright and vibrant food colouring into the tanks of your toilets, then check the toilet bowls after over half an hour and see if any colour showed in the bowl. If there is food colouring in the bowl, then you have a leaky flapper. You can then replace it and prevent yourself from paying unnecessarily expensive bills from excess water usage.
Your next step is to check your shower heads and all faucets for leaks. If there are any leaks, then replace the faucets before it escalates into a bigger issue and ensure that you won’t be facing any problems in the cooler months ahead.
Check your drains to clear it out and ensure that they are clean through and through. There are several tools that can be used to DIY style clean the drain from hair and other clog building ups. Another place to clean and check to ensure it is not nearly clogging is your garbage disposal. You can use the well-known DIY baking soda and vinegar trick followed by cold water and ice cubes specifically for garbage disposals to sharpen the blades.
Furthermore, you can deodorize your dishwasher by cleaning its drain and running it with a cycle of only vinegar to not only clean and deodorize it but also rid it of any bacteria. Furthermore, it’ll help your dishwasher smell great after. You can also do the same for the washing machine as vinegar can deodorize the washing machine smell as well.
Now you can associate the acronym “TIDIED” with the steps to plumbing preventative maintenance tips for the fall and winter. Coincidentally, the Webster dictionary definition of ‘tidied’ is “neat and orderly in appearance or habits” just as the plumbing maintenance tips ensure the cleaning and tidying of your plumbing before the cooler months ahead.
Below is a crossword based on the fall plumbing maintenance tips mentioned above in order to test your knowledge. Answers can be found at the bottom of this blog post, below the crossword.
- Check the toilets for _____ flappers.
- __________ outside hoses.
- ____ cracks & holes throughout your home.
- ___ the temperature on your hot water tank to 49°C.
- Cover exposed pipes.
- How to prepare the drains?
- Entire fall and winter plumbing preparation process.
- Check all appliances’ hoses for ______.
- Who to call if you have any plumbing needs in the Lower Mainland.
- Fix any _____ before the cooler months.
- Clear Out
- Mr Swirl