winter plumbing

Preparing Your Plumbing for Fall and Winter Weather

The holiday season is one of the most challenging times for your home's plumbing systems. This is not only because of colder temperatures and harsh conditions, but because of the added use your plumbing will experience from increased holiday visitors.

The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for plumbers, according to Roto Rooter. Thankfully, you can prevent many common plumbing problems by employing the following fall and winter plumbing tips.

Be Smart in the Kitchen

The holidays inspire some of the largest meals you'll prepare during the year, so how you dispose of cooking-related messes, leftovers, and table scraps can significantly impact their plumbing systems.

For example, fats or oils accumulate while preparing many meals, but these leftovers should NEVER be poured down your drain as they can congeal and clog pipes. Instead, allow grease to congeal in the cooking dish and then scrape it into the trash.

In terms of your garbage disposal, it is best to turn it on first and then add the food debris. After the machine has done its work, shut it off and run plenty of water down the drain to clear the system for the next time you need it.

Finally, preserve water pressure for everyone by only using the dishwasher during off-peak times so it doesn't compete with showers or washing machines.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

When the temperature drops below freezing, water pipes in your home have the potential to rupture, creating an expensive disaster in the home's basement. The average homeowner's expense for a pipe rupture is about $15,000, according to State Farm Insurancefound here.

To protect against frozen pipes, turn off all outside water valves and then look for pipes in un-insulated areas of the home, such as those running along the home's outer walls. These pipes are the most likely to freeze and should be wrapped with foam or towels for the season. In cases of extreme cold, it's a good idea to let the faucet drip slowly in order to encourage water flow.

Lastly, if you're headed south for the winter, you may be tempted to turn down the heat in your home in order to save energy. However, turning the heat too low increases the risk of frozen and ruptured pipes. The damage caused by such an accident will be even greater if the rupture goes unnoticed for days, weeks, or even months.

To best prevent a pipe rupture, the home's temperature should be set no lower than 45 degrees F. This solution offers maximum savings while protecting against frozen pipes.

Make Sure Your Water Heater Runs Properly

Your water heater is more important now than any other time of the year, so this is the perfect time to make sure it is running optimally. A professional plumber can service the unit by checking the tank's sacrificial anode rod and making any repairs or replacements necessary due to wear or corrosion.

When it comes time to adjust the heater's water temperature, don't set the dial above 125 degrees F. This will prevent scalding water as well as reduce energy waste.

The holiday season is one of the happiest times of the year, but seasonal cheer quickly sours if a plumbing accident occurs. Apply the steps above to help secure a happy, not soggy, holiday season around your home.

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