Wasn’t it nice to pull out that favorite sweatshirt last weekend? You’ll probably be switching out some clothes in your closet this month, pulling those warmer duds within easy reach. While our first freeze is likely a month away, it’s not too soon to start preparing your plumbing system for cold weather. Besides, it’s more pleasant to do these jobs when the days are still a bit warm.
Blow out your sprinkler lines and heads. If you’re one that shuts down your sprinkler system for the winter, blow out your lines to clear excess water.
Drain and store your garden hoses. Unhook them and drain all the water. If possible, store them inside the garage for winter. Left outside, even without water in them some hoses are prone to cracking with repeated freezing and thawing.
Know where your main water valve is. This is the valve that allows water to flow into your house. Depending on the location and construction of your home, it could be outside the front of your house or on the inside of the house on the main supply pipe. Also, make sure everyone in the family knows where the water shut off valves are behind toilets and under the sinks. Should something break in those areas, being able to shut down the water supply quickly will prevent a lot of damage. Under pressure, should one of these lines crack or break, a large amount of water can leak into your house. Even a simple ½ inch line under pressure will gush 10 gallons a minute. At that rate, it only takes a couple minutes to create a major mess.
Insulate your pipes. In the same way you get cold walking into a winter day without a jacket, your pipes get cold in winter without insulation. Wrapping them, either with ready-made insulation that easily slips over the pipes or a heater tape, will help insure that your pipes won’t freeze when the temperature dips.
Seal up the gaps in your home. In winter, cold air is not your friend. It will increase your heating costs and make your pipes more vulnerable to freezing. Seal up your windows and doors. Use expanding spray foam to fill in any cracks in your foundation or holes in the siding of your house. Keep the cold air outside.
Service your water heater. Water heaters are one of those appliances we take for granted. We don’t think about them till they break down. Annual maintenance will extend the life of your water heater.
Clean your gutters and down spouts. Before the snow flies, get up on the roof and clear all the debris out. A leaf blower is a great tool for this. However, if you have the slightest doubt about your confidence up there, hire someone to do the job. You want to spend your winter enjoying a coffee in front of your fireplace. But not wearing a cast while you’re doing it.
Finally and most importantly, have your plumbing professionally inspected. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is true. The pros at Sinclair will check your plumbing system to be sure it’s ready for a season of freezing weather. They will catch any small problems that exist before they become big (expensive) problems.