Prepare for the Virginia Winter with These Fall Plumbing Maintenance Tips
In the fall, temperatures drop and winter will be here in a few weeks. You could risk water damage and costly repairs during the winter months if you don’t protect your pipes, water heater, sump pump, outdoor faucets, hoses, sewer lines and other parts of your home’s plumbing now.
When winter comes, a lack of fall plumbing maintenance can lead to frozen pipes, burst pipes, damaged outdoor faucets, leaks, and more when water freezes in certain areas of your plumbing system. Since freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on a home’s plumbing system, prepare now by adding our fall plumbing maintenance tips to your seasonal to-do list.
Thomas & Galbraith explains how homeowners should prepare their home for winter with our fall plumbing tips. This fall, follow our plumbing tips to avoid a winter plumbing problem disrupting your holiday season, and don’t hesitate to call us if you have a plumbing maintenance or repair issue that you need help with NOW. Our fall plumbing maintenance tips include:
- Have the water heater checked
- Flush sediment buildup from the hot water tank
- Drain the water pipes and save them for the winter
- Winterize outdoor plumbing fixtures such as faucets for the winter
- Insulate inner pipes in unheated areas
- Take care of your home’s gutters
- Sump Pump Plumbing Maintenance
Plumbing Maintenance Tips for Outdoor Faucets and Hoses
Outside the heated home, outdoor plumbing fixtures such as garden hoses and outdoor faucets are vulnerable to damage from frozen water if not properly winterized. Follow these maintenance tips before the first frost of the fall or winter months to keep outdoor pipes and faucets functioning properly next year.
Fall Plumbing Tips for Hoses
Avoid frozen pipes and damage to outdoor faucets with these fall plumbing tips:
- Remove hoses from outside faucets around the garage and house.
- Drain all water from the pipes to prevent frozen water from forming and causing damage that can lead to leaks.
- Coil the hoses and store them in a safe, well-insulated location like your garage or barn for the winter.
Plumbing Maintenance Tips for Outdoor Faucets
When temperatures drop, the water in outdoor faucets and the interior pipes that supply them can freeze, which can cause a pipe to burst or damage the faucet itself. Avoid this plumbing problem with these plumbing tips for your to-do list:
- Find the water supply valve for any outdoor faucet. This is an indoor valve that is usually located a few feet from the house on the indoor pipes that lead to the faucet. Check the indoor valve on pipes in the basement, crawl space, garage, or laundry room.
- Close the inside valve.
- Outside, turn on the water supply valve to the faucet to allow water to flow from the interior pipes. Do not turn off the tap, but leave this tap open in winter so that any water remaining in the pipes can drain away.
- If your outdoor faucets are older and are not frost-proof faucets that won’t freeze, there may be a drain hole on the indoor valve near the faucet you closed. If so, place a bucket underneath and open the opening. This allows water to drain away to prevent outside pipes and faucets from freezing.
Prepare and Insulate the Home’s Pipes
Homeowners often suffer from frozen pipes when temperatures are below freezing, especially if the home’s pipes are not properly insulated. When plumbing pipes are not properly insulated, those located in unheated areas are most susceptible to freezing. If water freezes in the pipe, a burst pipe can occur, and burst pipes are a leading cause of leaks and water damage in the winter months.
Avoid burst pipes in the winter by taking the time in the fall to ensure they are properly insulated. Insulate house pipes that are in unheated areas or that are exposed to drafts, such as:
- Pipes in crawl spaces
- Pipes in basements
- Pipes in a garage
- Pipes in external walls
- Pipes in floor areas
- Internal pipes that lead to external pipes
This fall, insulate your home’s pipes in the areas mentioned above to help them better retain heat and prevent freezing. Fiberglass or foam pipe insulation sleeves can be purchased and installed on the home’s plumbing pipes to further our fall plumbing tips. Insulate hot and cold plumbing pipes to best protect your home from burst pipes, leaks and water damage this winter. You can also apply heat tape to warm the plumbing pipes in the home.
Sump Pump Fall Plumbing Maintenance Tips
Melting snow in late winter is known to cause flooding in basements and crawl spaces as the water table rises and causes costly water damage. Before winter comes and temperatures drop, prepare your plumbing system’s sump pump with these fall plumbing maintenance tips to keep your home dry.
- Unplug the sump pump.
- Pull the sump pump out of the sump basin.
- Inspect the sump pump for rust, corrosion, and physical damage.
- Remove dirt from the inlet screen.
- Remove any debris floating or in the catch basin to avoid clogging drain lines.
- Place the sump pump back in the pool and connect it to power.
- Pour a bucket of water into the basin and continue adding water until the float arm activates the sump pump.
- Watch the sump pump pump water out of the pond to make sure it is working properly. It should turn off once the water level drops and lowers the float.
- Check the drain pipes and make sure they are completely drained to prevent water from freezing in the pipes. Remove any debris that is blocking the drain opening.
Fall Plumbing Tips for the Water Heater
Ask homeowners in the Virginia area and they will tell you how important the water heater is to the home’s plumbing system. Without fall plumbing maintenance, the water heater may not effectively provide hot water to the home. Take the time to have your water heater inspected and use these fall plumbing tips to keep your water heater running more efficiently.
Have your water heater inspected by a professional plumber every fall. Your plumber will inspect this important piece of plumbing system equipment, ensuring all components are functioning properly and without leaks while the water heater delivers hot water with maximum energy efficiency. During this visit you are welcome to ask questions.
Follow these installation tips to remove sediment buildup and debris from your water heater. Only perform this plumbing maintenance if your water heater tank is new or has had regular maintenance. Otherwise, washing accumulated sediment from the water heater could reveal leaks that lead to water damage and require the installation of an entirely new water heater.
- Turn off the electricity or gas to the water heater.
- Turn off the water supply valve for the incoming cold water lines.
- Connect a hose to the drain faucet and insert the other end into a nearby drain, such as the kitchen sink, or place it outdoors.
- Open the drain valve and allow all hot water to drain from the water heater.
- Open the water supply valve and allow fresh water to flow through the water heater and drain to remove any remaining residue and sediment buildup.
- Close the water heater drain valve and allow it to fill with lukewarm water.
- Disconnect the hoses, drain them and store them.
- Check the tank for leaks and contact a plumber if repairs to your system are needed.
Home’s Gutters and the Home’s Plumbing System
If the home’s gutters are not functioning properly, you may experience plumbing problems during the winter holiday season. Gutters must drain all water away from the house and its immediate surroundings. When gutters contain standing water or are clogged with debris, they can lead to flooding and water damage in your basement, wreak havoc on your roofline, and even cause drainage problems. heating, not to mention the damage to the gutters themselves.
- This fall, prepare your home’s gutters to protect your home’s plumbing as winter begins. Fall gutter installation tips will help your sump pump work more efficiently and reduce the risk of water damage that needs to be fixed by a professional plumber with a permanent solution.
- Remove debris from gutters and downspouts to allow water to flow freely.
- Rinse out small debris and remove gutters.
- Check the slope of the gutters and make sure that no more water can freeze in the gutters.
- Check the connection between downspouts and gutters to prevent unwanted water runoff from damaging the home.
- Check the ends of downspouts to ensure that the gutters are directing water away from the house and into surrounding areas of the property.
Fall Plumbing Tips to Help You Prepare the Home’s Plumbing System
Don’t hesitate to do a full inspection of the home’s plumbing, faucets, and other components in the fall. Look for problems like leaks and foul smells and make a plan now to solve these home plumbing problems with a professional plumber.
- Check the plumbing system faucets for leaks. Tighten the faucets in the kitchen sink, bathroom, shower and bathtub to prevent leaks and wasted water this fall and winter.
- Check the plumbing pipes in the house that you can access, check their condition and look for leaks. Fix leaks now to avoid the possibility of serious water damage several weeks into the fall or winter.
- Have the sewer line cleaned by a professional plumber if you notice foul odors coming from one or more drains.
- Clean the trash can to eliminate bad smells.
Fall Plumbing Tips and Help from a Roanoke Plumber
Fall plumbing tips listed in this blog will help you prepare for winter and avoid problems with your sewer line, water heater, sump pump, pipes, and more. If a plumbing problem wreaks havoc on your home at any time this fall or winter, whether the temperatures are still below freezing or not, call Wisler Plumbing & Air for fast, reliable service.