While temperature lows in Chandler, AZ, rarely dip below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, there’s still a significant risk of freezing pipes. According to the National Gardening Association, the region has a 50% chance of experiencing temperatures as low as 32 degrees in mid-December and an 80% chance of freezing temps by mid-January. Preparing your plumbing system for chilly weather will prevent pipe ruptures, water damage, and more. To ensure your home is well-protected for the winter season, follow these 10 plumbing maintenance tips.
1. Schedule a Whole-House Plumbing Inspection
Autumn is the best time to schedule a whole-house plumbing inspection. Most plumbers recommend scheduling these services at least once annually, and some home insurance policies and home service agreements require it. Whole-house plumbing inspections allow plumbers to spot and correct minor issues before they lead to pipe ruptures, floods, whole-house backups, or other plumbing emergencies.
During these inspections, we look for aging, worn, and leaky pipes. When assessing the integrity of these components, we give homeowners estimates of their remaining lifespans and make as-needed recommendations for replacement. We also look for slow and hidden leaks in crawlspaces, slabs, and behind appliances and drywall. We know that leaks like these can fester for months unnoticed while causing mold problems, indoor air quality (IAQ) issues, and progressive building damage along the way.
Making sure that your plumbing system is in the best possible condition before winter starts minimizes the likelihood of cold-weather damage. The temperature-related expansion and contraction that pipes and other plumbing features experience can exacerbate existing problems, cause accelerated wear, and lead to outright plumbing failure.
2. Insulate All Exposed Pipes
At the exterior of your home, you may have several pipes that lack protection from building materials. Although these pipes will benefit from the residual heat that radiates from your exterior walls, this won’t be enough to keep them from icing over when outside temperatures plummet.
Exposed pipes are often located in attached garages, under back porches, and on side walls. However, you’ll also find them in the interior of the building under sinks, in laundry rooms, and in remote areas that aren’t serviced by your HVAC system.
Wrapping these structures in an appropriate insulating material will keep clean, potable water flowing into your home and prevent pipe ruptures. Using fiberglass pipe insulation or foam pipe sleeves, make sure that all of your exposed pipes are securely covered both indoors and out. You can also pass this job on to a licensed plumber for optimum results.
3. Have Your Heating System Serviced
Among the best ways to prevent frozen pipes in cold weather is to keep the building interior warm. Heating emergencies affect far more than building residents. If the interior of your home ever becomes as cold as the air outside, both exposed and covered pipes can ice over.
Scheduling fall HVAC tune-up service will ensure that your thermostat is in an ideal location and functioning as it should. HVAC technicians:
- Clean all indoor and outdoor heating and cooling system components
- Calibrate thermostats
- Test safety controls
- Replace damaged and worn parts
Fall is also a good time to stock up on furnace air filters so that you have plenty to last throughout the winter season. You should inspect your furnace’s air filter monthly and change it every one to three months. Dirty air filters and the decreases in airflow they cause are among the most common reasons for mid-winter furnace breakdowns.
4. Turn Off the Water Supply to Your Outdoor Spigots
Given that you won’t be washing your lawn or vehicle when the ground is coated in frost, it’s best to turn off the water supply to your outdoor spigots. This way, the water that flows through these lines will never have the chance to freeze, expand, and cause serious plumbing damage. After closing the valves to these taps, drain all residual water out.
5. Install Freeze-Proof Hose Bib Covers
Installing hose bib covers that are resistant to freezing is another great way to prevent burst pipes at the building exterior. These covers trap the heat that radiates from your indoor plumbing to keep these fixtures sufficiently warm all winter long.
6. Have Your Water Heater Drained and Flushed
Fall is also an excellent time to maintain your water heater. During yearly water heater service, we test temperature and pressure relief valves, check the integrity of sacrificial anode rods, and look for excessive rust and other corrosion. As needed, we also flush these appliances out to remove build-ups of sediment that would otherwise diminish efficiency and set the stage for tank damage and leaks. Keeping your water heater running is key for sending residual heat to covered hose bibs and maintaining a consistent supply of hot water.
7. Schedule Drain Cleaning Service
Despite your best efforts to keep cooking oils, rendered fats, and grease out of your drains, small amounts of all of these things find their way into your plumbing system. By the time fall rolls around, most residential drains and pipes are coated with grimy layers of soap scum, body oils, cooking fats, and more. Every time you shower, wash oily pots and pans or other dishes, and run your washing machine, you add to these accumulations.
In winter, rendered fats and other oils solidify in plumbing systems far more rapidly than they normally do. As these build-ups increase in size, the diameter of pipes at their interior decreases, and wastewater and solid waste have increasingly less room to move. Drain cleaning service will prevent clogs and single-fixture back-ups. When plumbers use hydro-jetting and hydro-steaming techniques via clean-outs, drain cleaning also clears outside sewer lines of blockages caused by weeds, tree roots, and snagged materials such as “flushable” wipes. This in turn prevents whole-house backups.
8. Inspect, Test, and Maintain Your Sump Pump
Your sump pump needs fall maintenance too. After all, this appliance will prevent water from flooding your basement, crawlspaces, and other low-lying areas. Have a plumber check its water discharge line, replace loose, worn, or missing parts, and install a backup battery. During sump pump maintenance, we can also winterize components like the sump pump motor, discharge pipe, and discharge hose.
9. Have Your Gutters Cleaned
Your gutters and downspouts keep water from pooling around your home’s foundation. When they’re blocked by silt, leaves, twigs, and other organic debris, gutters often overflow. This can lead to standing water in your basement that exceeds your sump pump’s capabilities. In addition to having your gutters cleaned in autumn, consider having gutter guards, mesh, or brushes installed.
10. Store Your Water Hoses
When turning off the water to your outside taps and covering your hose bibs, detach and hang your hoses to drain. When coiled, garden hoses can retain a surprising amount of water. If left outdoors, this trapped water will expand to create rips, tears, and other structural damage. After your hoses have dried, store them in your shed or garage until warm weather returns.
We help residents of Chandler maintain warm, comfortable, and healthy homes year-round. We provide top-notch plumbing, air conditioning, heating, and indoor air quality services. When you’re ready to prepare your plumbing system for cold weather, you can count on us for seamless, end-to-end solutions. Contact Emergency Air Heating Cooling & Plumbing now to schedule an appointment.