The fall season ushers in vibrant autumn colors and wonderful temperatures that are ideal for outdoor gatherings. However, it also serves as an early warning that the harsh winter weather and temperatures are around the corner. The extreme drop in temperatures can wreak havoc on plumbing systems, especially if you are a homeowner.
The good news is that you can prevent lots of plumbing issues by performing several routine maintenance tasks before the autumn freeze hits. This way, you can potentially save lots of cash and time down the road. Below are several fall plumbing tips you can follow to have your home ready for the winter season.
1. Test the Sump Pump
Autumn is a wet and cold season, with heavy rains and hurricanes being the order of the day. Many homes flood, and homeowners spend hundreds of bucks fixing everything damaged by the rainwater. You can easily avoid this situation by ensuring that the sump pump is functioning correctly. The weather can be unpredictable at this time of the year, and you need something to take care of the floodwater in the basement.
Get a bucket of water and pour it inside the sump pit. If the pump sensors are in good condition, they should automatically signal the pump to pump the water out. If the pump doesn’t work automatically, it could be broken down or clogged by dirt. Start by cleaning the pump and the sump pit, and then move on to the drainpipes that empty water outside.
Check the power connection to the sump pump, too. If the power supply lines are faulty, the pump won’t run and may cause flooding. Ensure that your pump is connected properly, and the motor is running. Additionally, invest in a battery backup system in case of a power outage. These systems are cost-effective and efficient and will keep you at ease in the face of the worst storms.
2. Clean Gutters and Drain Spouts
Some trees shed leaves during the warmer seasons as a survival mechanism. The wind blows these leaves, dust, and other debris on rooftops, and it all eventually settles in the gutters. The rainwater will carry the dirt when the rains start, eventually blocking the gutters and downward drain spouts. As part of the fall preparation criteria, grab a ladder and clear your gutters.
Clogged gutters can cause the rainwater to pool and overflow into the sidewalls and shingles. The last thing you would want is a leaking roof during the rainy season. Besides, leaking water can also cause the wooden parts of your roof to rot. The excess moisture encourages mildew and mold growth, which can lead to respiratory allergies and other health issues.
After clearing debris from your gutters, pour some water on your roof. Check how the water drains down the gutters until you are satisfied that there are no blockages present.
3. Don’t Forget the Water Heater
As the cold sets in, your household starts using the water heater more often, which may overwork the heater and consequently cause a breakdown. It is therefore in your best interest to service, inspect, and clean the water heater.
Most water heaters last between eight and 12 years when properly maintained. However, their efficiency reduces over time due to the accumulation of gunk, especially if you use hard water. Connect a hosepipe to the drain tap and empty the tank into an outside drain. You can follow the manufacturer’s instructions for a manual clean-up or hire a plumbing professional to do it for you.
Lastly, inspect the pressure relief valve. When you turn down the lever, pressurized hot water should gush out into the nearest drainpipe. If it doesn’t, you need a new pressure relief valve. Be careful when handling the valve because hot water and steam can scald your skin.
4. Prepare the Sewer System
Although many households use the sewer every day year-round, they tend to overlook it when making their autumn preparation to-do list. Everyone tends to stay indoors during the cold seasons to keep their bodies warm. Your sewer system will therefore handle a lot of traffic between cooking, laundry, and bathroom usage. With overflowing pipes and a foul odor, you can imagine how catastrophic a blocked sewer could be.
To be on the safe side, have a licensed plumber inspect the sewer system before the onset of autumn for any blockages or something else that would potentially clog or burst the sewer pipes. Make a regular drain cleaning schedule and have a local plumber’s emergency contacts nearby in case the situation gets out of hand.
5. Insulate the Plumbing
There is a common misconception that pipes in the interior or covered spaces like the crawlspace, the garage, and the drainpipe aren’t affected by the cold weather like the outer pipes are. The truth is that all pipes located in the non-heated spaces are at risk of freezing and bursting regardless of the materials they are made of. Therefore, when making your autumn to-do list, don’t forget to include pipe insulation because temperatures can sometimes get below zero.
If you have the financial means, you can heat the areas containing those pipes or cover them with thermal tape. Better still, you can purchase a pipe insulation kit from the nearby store because it is more effective.
6. Check the Outdoor Pipes and Faucets
Outdoor pipes and faucets are more likely to freeze and burst compared to their indoor counterparts. Begin with locating and shutting off the valves that control the external plumbing system. It should be somewhere inside your house. Next, disconnect the water hoses from the spigots before you stow them away.
Drain the remaining water from the pipes and insulate the faucets. That’s because freezing water hoses can easily damage your fixtures, and the remaining water might burst your pipes when left outside. You can use Styrofoam to insulate or, better still, buy a professional insulation kit from a nearby home improvement store.
7. Seal Gaps
When installing plumbing systems, plumbers cut holes into walls, roofs, and flooring to accommodate pipes. The pipes may fit perfectly in the holes, but plumbers will also seal the remaining gaps with some caulk. The remaining gaps might enlarge over time and allow the passage of cold drafts into your residence, which may freeze the plumbing system and considerably hike your utility bills. That’s why it’s wise to inspect these areas and mark where the gaps exist. You can use caulking, weather strips, and other forms of insulation to fill in gaps.
Contact the Plumbing Experts
Fall plumbing maintenance may seem like a lot of work, but these maintenance tasks are less time-consuming, cheaper, and easier than the alternative. Remember that the condition of your plumbing network will determine whether you will have a comfortable or troubled season. Service the sump pump, clean the gutters and drain spouts, seal the gaps, insulate outdoor pipes and faucets, check the sewer, and check the water heater.
If you require a plumbing contractor to help you with maintenance tasks, contact the experts at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing. Our highly experienced plumbers will offer timely advice and fix any plumbing issues you might have. We also offer duct cleaning, heating, cooling, and maintenance services to the residents of Norcross, GA, and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to request our services or schedule an appointment.