Winter is a time when plumbing problems can arise. The cold weather in Fox Valley, Wisconsin, can cause pipes to freeze and burst. Alternatively, your water heater may not keep up with the increased demand for hot water. Here are ways you can winterize your plumbing system to have a better chance of surviving the freezing temperatures.
Drain Your Water Heater
Draining your water heater is a simple step that can have big benefits. To avoid damage to the tank, be sure you turn it off before draining and wait until all of the water has drained out, so there isn’t any left in the bottom of the tank. Then reinstall your drain valve plug or an anti-freeze drain valve to ensure you don’t accidentally drain your tank again and damage it.
In addition to preventing damage to your water heater, draining the tank will also ensure you don’t run out of hot water while waiting for it to heat up. If some guests are visiting and using a lot of hot water or if the weather gets colder than usual, you’ll have plenty of time before running out since there’s less in the tank to heat up.
Make sure your exposed pipes are insulated to prevent freezing. You can use foam pipe insulation, electrical tape, or heat tape to insulate the piping that is most at risk for freezing – those on exterior walls and in unheated areas of the home, such as garages and crawl spaces. Be careful not to cover the pipes with insulation that can trap condensation, leading to mold growth.
Make sure you only use products designed outdoors or in wet areas since they are more resistant to damage from the elements and won’t cause any problems even if water gets trapped inside them. Also, check your insulation for small holes or tears that can let water in, and use weather stripping to prevent cold air from seeping into the home through any openings.
Fix Leaky Faucets and Dripping Shower Heads
A slow drip from a leaky faucet may not seem like much, but it can add up to gallons of water wasted every month – as well as the water that never makes it to your shower or bath and instead leaks out onto the floor. This wasted water can also cause problems with frozen pipes if you don’t fix the leak right away, so check under sinks for any puddles of water around faucets. If there’s a problem, tighten all screws on your taps and replace washers and gaskets if necessary.
A showerhead that drips, leaks or has low water pressure can also cause problems since it may not promptly heat the entire volume of water. A plumber might need to install a new valve with a diverter on your shower arm, so you have full flow through the head. On the other hand, a new shower head with a larger flow rate may do the trick.
Drain Outdoor Faucets
If there’s a chance that your outside faucet could freeze overnight, turn it off, so all of the water inside drains out while it isn’t in use during cold weather. This may not be possible if your faucet is buried deep in the ground, but you can wrap it with insulation to prevent freezing.
If there’s a problem with any outdoor valves or spigots, try tightening them and make sure they’re turned off at both ends of each line, so no water gets into the pipes when they’re not in use. You can also wrap them with insulation or heat tape to prevent freezing problems, but make sure the water doesn’t get trapped inside if it isn’t used for some time.
Fix Leaky Basement Flooding
If you have a problem with basement flooding, this can also lead to frozen pipes. Even if your whole home isn’t flooded, but only the area around one exterior wall in the basement is affected, make sure any plumbing vent lines are clear and open, so water doesn’t get trapped inside them. You can use a plumbers snake, air compressor, or compressed air to clear the lines if they’re clogged.
If there’s an area of your basement that’s always wet no matter what time of year it is, this could be due to frozen pipes. Check for any leaks in the walls and floors where water may get trapped inside during cold weather. If you can’t find the source of the problem, call a plumber to inspect your whole system and help determine what’s causing water to get into this area.
Keep the Area Around Pipes Clear
If you have gas, water, or any other type of piping in your home, it’s important to keep these areas clear of anything that can cause damage. This includes keeping furniture away from them and avoiding building things like bookshelves directly above them since this could lead to problems if there is any water in the lines.
If you have anything stored on top of your plumbing, make sure the shelf is sturdy enough to hold a lot of weight and won’t cause any problems if there is an issue with frozen pipes. You may want to use plastic or rubber protectors to keep items from slipping off the shelves and causing any damage.
Consider a High-Efficiency Water Heater
If you have an older gas or electric water heater, this appliance may be wasting a lot of energy and money since it keeps heating the same amount of water regardless of how much is being used. Some traditional models can waste up to 20% on your utility bills, so replacing yours with a high-efficiency water heater can save you money on your monthly bills.
A tankless heating system only heats the amount of water needed at any given time, saving energy and not wasting fuel. If you want to use less gas or electricity during cold weather, this type of unit might be a good fit for your home, depending on your local climate and the size of your family.
Consider Solar Water Heating
If you live in a sunny area that’s warm throughout the year, solar heating can help provide hot water for your home. This type of system doesn’t cost very much to set up, and it could save you money on your monthly utility bills. Hence, if this option interests you, contact an experienced professional to see what you need to do to get started.
Solar water heating systems can work well for smaller homes, but they may not be as effective if your home is larger or has a lot of people living inside. In that case, it’s best to use traditional fuel sources since this type of system wouldn’t have enough energy stored up to heat the water in large quantities.
Winterizing your plumbing system can help protect it from damage during the cold months of the year. If you’re a resident of Fox Valley, Wisconsin, contact Black-Haak to winterize your plumbing system. We also offer electrical services and additional plumbing services including drain cleaning, pipe and faucet repair, and sewer or septic services. Additionally, we can install, maintain, and repair your heating and cooling system.