Some Plumbing Maintenance Tips For Winter
The plumbing needs in the households change with season. Every season has its separate set of issues that you have to deal with. In winters the primary issues that have to be faced are the sub-zero temperature and risks of freezing and bursting pipes. The pipes as well as other plumbing fixtures that consume water are at risk. Moreover in winters you are inside the house most of the times. The inclement weather outside do not allow you to go out. So consumption of water rises, which creates an extra load on pipes. In the US almost 250,000 people suffer damage to the property due to inundation caused by leaky and burst pipes in winter. It just needs a leak of pinhole size to have your house flooded with 250 gallons of water each day.
The municipal water also runs the risk of freezing, the moment it enters your house. The municipal water line is buried much below the frost line. So the ground heat keeps the water in liquid form. But the moment it comes to the surface to enter your house, the chances of freezing is quite high. Under such circumstances you should aim at stopping heat loss from water inside the pipes. Here are some ways to maintain your plumbing system in winter-
• The best way to prevent frozen pipes in winter is to design the plumbing system of the house in such a manner so that pipes pass through the conditioned spaces. In winter seasons you can keep your cabinets open to allow the warm air circulating in the room to thaw the pipes. In the most problematic zone of the house, where pipes often freeze up, have a 60-watt bulb lightened. If you feel that the pipes are about to freeze then open your faucet and let the water drain out. Ice puts tremendous pressure on the water still trapped in the pipes, which is the root cause of bursting. If the pipes are already frozen, then you can warm them up with heaters, hot towels, hot bottles etc. Never use blowtorch, stove or such other elements. As a preventive measure you can buy insulation for pipes made of foam. You can also cover your pipes with heating tapes and cables that ward off the problem to some extent.
• If the pipes burst due to ice build-up, turn off the main water supply in the house. Call a plumber in your area as soon as possible,
• Boilers and water heaters are prone to breakdown in winter. They may mal-function and produce insufficient heat. This is because they remain unused for a long period during summer. In such conditions check your boiler pressure and make sure that the power source is working. It is always useful to have it tuned-up before winter rears its head.
• The garden hoses that are used to water plants also freeze up if they have water inside them. This can in turn affect your house’s plumbing system. The ice can exert pressure on the interior pipes and damage them. Disconnect garden hose and drain them during freezing weather.
• The outdoor faucets usually have shut-off valves in the basement, crawl space or elsewhere. Turn off this valve and open the outdoor faucet to drain the residual water.
• Some houses have a sump pump installed in the basement. These are installed to prevent flooding. Check the outlet pipe of the pump somewhere in the backyard. It should not be blocked. A blocked outlet pipe will send back the water into the basement instead of throwing it out in the yard.
• Pipelines to swimming pool, fountain or garden pond also tend to freeze, Shut off water supply to these by closing respective valve and drain the pipes.
• Never throw grease and cooking oil in the sink to drain them out through the pipes. These often create clogs and block the conduits. This tendency becomes even more acute in winter. The sludge tends to congeal in the pipe.
• In winters the cold water that enters your water heater is chilly cold. As a result the heater is pressurized in making the water hot. It also takes more time to do so. Therefore allow the heater some time to bring the full tank of water up to the thermostat setting before placing more demand on the system. You can crank up the thermostat by a few degrees. But do not exceed 125 degrees. This may create a scalding hazard.
• You should run the dishwasher overnight or at some other low-demand time to minimize stress on the water heater.