How to Prepare Your Pipes for the Summer

How to Prepare Your Pipes for the Summer

When it comes to preparing your home’s water pipes for the winter season, there are plenty of tips and how-to articles. However, when summer arrives, there is very little talk about how these warmer months can affect your water pipes. But don't let this fool you! Just as colder temperatures bring the potential for complications involving your home's water system, warmer weather can do the same.

Here are four things to consider when preparing your home's water pipes for the summer.

1. Expansion

While cold air makes things shrink, warm air causes expansion - even in your water pipes and hoses. If you're curious about the effects of expansion on your home's pipes, pay close attention to any hoses located around your home's exterior - like your garden hose - as they will show signs of expansion first. 
 

Rapid expansion caused by temperature increases and direct sunlight can cause these hoses or pipes to expand and crack. If you notice such damage around your home, it’s important to get these pieces replaced as quickly as possible. The longer a crack is allowed to exist, the more water will be wasted due to unnecessary leakage.

2. Water Pressure Problems

As temperatures start to rise, we invariably turn to water to provide some relief - like dipping in the pool or running through the sprinkler system. While turning to water on hot days is an instinct, what we don't realize is during the summer months, overall water usage will increase. This in turn can directly affect your home's water pressure. 

While you can’t control the actions of those who live in your community, there are things you can do to enjoy the same water pressure you’re used to, even during the peak summer season. For starters, try to avoid peak water usage times during the day and take your shower a little earlier or later than you normally would. You can also take a quick look around your neighborhood to see when most of your neighbors run their sprinklers and set yours to start a little later, preserving your water pressure.

If you apply these strategies and your water pressure still seems low, you may have a more serious problem such as a ruptured water main. A ruptured water main may not be immediately visible to you, but it will require a professional plumber to repair. In addition to low water pressure, evidence of a ruptured water main may also include dramatic increases to your water bill and soggy/bulging spaces in your yard where underground water pipes run.

3. Remove Obstructions in Your Sprinkler System

If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, now is the perfect time of year to use it. However, it's important  to monitor your system throughout the season to make sure individual sprinkler heads do not become clogged with obstructions like dirt, grass clippings or other debris. Should a sprinkler head be jammed with this material, it can cause an unnecessary buildup in water pressure that can burst the system’s water main. Test your system at the start of the year and monitor it throughout the season to make sure all heads are running as they are supposed to.

In addition to checking your heads for possible obstructing materials, it’s also a good idea to check each head to make sure they haven’t been damaged in some way perhaps as a result of a careless pass with the lawnmower. A damaged head does more than simply fail to water the area it is assigned; it can also be a water waster, as fluid is still assigned to the head by the system but isn’t being dispensed as it should be. If you do find a damaged sprinkler head, have it replaced immediately.

4. One Last Check of Your Home’s Pipes

Finally, just as you inspect your home’s pipes during the winter, you should also do this in the summer. While freezing pipes are a top cold weather threat, pipes in the summer can actually display too much flowing water.

Sweating pipes are a common summer occurrence; your pipes sweat because the water inside the pipes is significantly colder than the air outside of them. This can make your pipes appear as though they are leaking. Even though your pipes are only sweating, the result is still the same: waste. Wrapping your pipes — just as you would during the winter — can help protect against this waste.

While reviewing your pipes for sweating concerns, this is also a good time to check your pipes for rusted, deteriorated hardware whether that deterioration is the product of water sweat or not. Should you find a section of your home’s water pipes displaying significant corrosion, it’s best to have the part replaced immediately rather than allow the corrosion to continue. In many cases this is a simple replacement, and once you’re finished, you can get back to enjoying all the fun activities summer has to offer.

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