Preparing Your Plumbing for Winter

As winter approaches, there are many different ways that you should be preparing your home. From insulating pipes to draining your sprinklers, many different parts of your plumbing system require pre-winter maintenance in order to properly function during the cold weather. With this checklist, you will be able to prepare your plumbing for winter and know when to call a local licensed plumber for help.

Fixing Leaks
Does your home have any leaky faucets or pipes? If so, these absolutely must be repaired before the temperature drops. Even the tiniest of water leaks can become a major issue during winter. Inspect all of your exposed pipes, both indoors and outdoors, as well as faucets in your kitchen, utility room, and bathrooms. Any and all leaks should be fixed during fall to ensure that your pipes and faucets are ready for winter.

Insulating Pipes
If you have exposed pipes, these will need to be insulated before winter to ensure that they do not freeze or worse, burst open. You will probably find exposed pipes in your garage, attic, basement, and crawl space. Any pipes that are visible should be wrapped with insulating foam. If you have outdoor pipes, these should also be wrapped. This process is inexpensive and far superior to facing the costly repairs of damaged pipes during winter. Furthermore, insulating your pipes can help you save on energy costs.

Water Heater
Before the onset of winter, there are several tasks you should perform in regard to your water heater. First, drain your hot water heater. This should be performed on a yearly basis to remove sediment from the tank, which can build up and cause rust, and it is especially important if you have hard water. If you see any potential problems with your water heater, consult with your plumber in regard to repair or replacement. Even if you do not suspect an issue, you should still have a water heater inspection performed at least every two years. Any deviation from normal operation or abnormal sounds should be addressed immediately to ensure no unsafe conditions exist.

Swamp Cooler
If your home has a swamp cooler, you will need to drain it before winter. First, turn off the water and the power to the swamp cooler. Next, drain the water from both the cooler and the water supply line. You should also clean the inside of the swamp cooler and change the pads. Last, cover your swamp cooler with a water tight cover to ensure that it stays dry during winter.

Outdoor Hoses, Faucets, & Sprinklers
Your outdoor hoses, faucets, and sprinklers must also be prepared for winter. First, check the faucets for leaks. Then, remove any outdoor hoses you have, as the water inside them can freeze and expand, leading to the pipes and faucets in your home freezing as well. Drain these hoses before storing them. Next, protect your outside hose bibs by draining any collected water and adding insulation.

If your home has shut-off valves for your outdoor faucets, you will be able to close these and completely drain the water from the hose bibs, meaning that you do not need insulation. Finally, if you have a sprinkler system, you should turn off the water and flush any water that remains. Some systems are self draining, while others will need to be purged using blown air.

Pump House
If your home draws water from a well, you will need to prepare the pump house for winter. First, insulate the pump house itself to ensure that the pipes do not freeze. Next, add insulation to any pipes that are exposed within the pump house. Finally, you should provide the pump house with a heat source to ensure that the temperature does not drop below freezing.

Sump Pump and Pit
For those who have a sump pump and pit, you will need to perform further winterization tasks. The first step is a sump pump and pit inspection to ensure that your system is working properly. Next, clean both the sump pump and the pit. You should also insulate your basement to ensure that the sump pump does not freeze. If it does, it will no longer function, allowing water to flow into your basement. This can lead to flooding and serious water damage.

Main Water Shutoff Valve
Finally, it is important to know where your water main shutoff valve is located. If a pipe freezes and bursts, knowing where your water main shutoff valve is will allow you to quickly turn off the water and reduce the potential for damage. You should also test the water main shutoff valve to ensure it is working properly in case an emergency arises.

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