Before the winter season arrives, it’s important to prepare your home for the cold months ahead, particularly your plumbing system. As temperatures drop and pipes begin to chill, there is a growing risk that expanding ice could burst your pipes and flood your home.
At James’ Plumbing & Heating we work with clients across Santa Fe, ensuring homes are ready for the cold snap. If you want to learn more about how you can prevent leaks and plumbing damage follow along with our winter plumbing maintenance checklist.
Wrap Exposed Pipes
As you begin your winter plumbing inspection, start with exposed pipes. Locate the exposed pipes in your home, and ensure they are either in an area where they will receive adequate warm air, or you insulate them. You can purchase pipe insulation wrap from any home hardware store. You may even find pipe insulation at a dollar store or department store in the hardware section.
Wrapping the pipes doesn’t require a professional, although you can call a heating and cooling company, or a plumbing company to help you winterize your pipes. When you insulate exposed pipes, it helps retain warmth and keep the chill from freezing water, especially at night when pipes are left unused.
Disconnect Outdoor Water Systems
Everything from your garden hose to your sprinkler system is at risk of being damaged during winters in Santa Fe. At James’ Plumbing & Heating we always recommend homeowners disconnect garden hoses, sprinklers, water features (fountains), and other external plumbing connected to their home.
The pipes connecting to these outdoor features will obviously take the brunt of the cold winter season. Unlike the exposed pipes in your home, it wouldn’t make sense to try and insulate garden hoses and sprinklers, especially because you’re unlikely to use them during the cold months.
Turn up the Thermostat
Even before autumn fades into frosty winter nights, it’s a good idea to start turning up the heat, even slightly. Consider resting your thermostat somewhere around 18 degrees Celsius or 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit to start. You don’t want to blast your home with heat if you don’t need it, but you also don’t want your pipes to freeze if there is unexpected snow early in the season.
Energy.gov suggests the best temperature once your home gets cold is 20 degrees Celsius, or 68 degrees Fahrenheit. This is during the day when you’re awake and need temperature control. At night you can decrease the temperature to save money.
Plan Your Getaways
Going away for the holidays? It’s always helpful to have a plan ahead of time regarding plumbing and thermostats. If you won’t be around for a significant amount of time, asking a friend or relative to check in on the place can save you the hassle of coming home to a busted pipe.
House-sitters should regulate heat, and run the taps in the home a few times a day to keep them from freezing up. If you are lucky enough to have a smart thermostat, you can program your home to warm when necessary, or even control the temperature remotely from wherever you are in the world via an online connection.
Inspect Your Water Heater
As you prep for the winter, be sure to give your water heater a once-over. Even if it’s running smoothly, it should be inspected once a year for damage, leaks, cracks, or odd smells or sounds. If everything appears to be working, you can relax knowing your hot showers will be hot all winter.
If the heater needs repairs or maintenance, be sure to call a plumber in Santa Fe right away. It’s important to fix these issues early before they become larger irreparable problems that lead to water heater replacements.
Check Your Water Pressure
Water pressure tells you a lot about how your plumbing is running. If your pressure seems lower than normal, it could be due to a leak or blockage. It’s important to report these issues to your plumber early.
We always urge our clients to call at the smallest sign of trouble. In the world of plumbing, something small almost always turns into something big if left unattended. Water pressure could be a symptom of a much bigger problem, and you don’t want to wait until the ground is frozen and snow is falling to figure it out.
Clean the Gutters
While not necessarily related to your home plumbing system, your gutters deal with drainage away from your roof. Many plumbing companies help homeowners inspect and clear gutters twice annually. The best time to clear your gutters is after spring when the pollen, sap, and blossoms have finished blowing around, and just after fall when fallen leaves, twigs and other debris fill most gutters.
Clearing your gutters and downspouts ensures a clear flow of water away from your roof and your home. This prevents unwanted leaks and flooding as shingle damage, rot, mold, and pests are attracted to the debris and blocked water.
Check Faucets and Taps
From your shower head to your bathroom sink to your kitchen sink, leaking faucets are a sign something isn’t quite right. Before winter approaches, check your home for dripping faucets, and be sure all your taps are tightened and performing as they should.
Leaking faucets allow water to flow in small quantities, and at night while you’re sleeping and temperatures are low, this water could freeze. Unfreezing your pipes is a daunting task and one which almost always requires the help of a professional.
If you notice any faucets which you can’t fix on your own, or you find yourself overwhelmed with the winter plumbing checklist, call a professional. Experienced plumbers are used to dealing with these types of issues, and are always happy to lend a hand, even on small jobs.
Contact James’ Plumbing & Heating Today
Interested in learning more about protecting your home during the winter season, and which plumbing services would benefit you? We can help. If you live in or around Santa Fe, contact us at James’ Plumbing & Heating today.