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Prepare for the Cincinnati Winter with These Fall Plumbing Maintenance Tips

In fall, temperatures drop and winter will be here in a few short weeks. You could risk water damage and costly repairs during the winter months if you do not protect your home’s pipes, water heater, sump pump, outdoor faucets, hoses, sewer line, and other parts of the home’s plumbing now.

When winter hits, a lack of fall plumbing maintenance could result in frozen pipes, burst pipes, damaged outside faucets, leaks, and more if you have water freezing in parts of your plumbing system. Because freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on the home plumbing system, prepare now by putting our fall plumbing maintenance tips on your seasonal to-do list.

Thomas & Galbraith explains how homeowners should ready the house for winter with our fall plumbing tips. Follow our plumbing tips this fall to avoid a winter plumbing problem that will disrupt your holiday season, and feel free to call us if you have a plumbing maintenance or repair issue you need help with now. Our fall plumbing maintenance tips include:

  • Have the Hot Water Heater Inspected
  • Flush Sediment Buildup From the Hot Water Tank
  • Drain Water Hoses and Store for Winter
  • Winterize Exterior Plumbing Fixtures Like Outdoor Faucets
  • Insulate Interior Pipes in Unheated Areas
  • Care for the Home’s Gutters
  • Plumbing Maintenance for the Sump Pump

Plumbing Maintenance Tips for Outdoor Faucets and Hoses

Outside the warm house, exterior plumbing fixtures like garden hoses and outdoor faucets are prone to damage from freezing water if not correctly winterized. Perform these maintenance tips before the first freeze of the fall or winter months to keep hoses and outdoor faucets functioning properly next year.

Fall Plumbing Tips for Hoses

Avoid a frozen hose and damage to outdoor faucets with these fall plumbing tips:

  1. Remove hoses from outdoor faucets around the garage and house.
  2. Drain all water from hoses to prevent freezing water from forming and causing damage that creates leaks.
  3. Coil hoses and place them in a secure, properly insulated location like your garage or barn for the winter.

Plumbing Maintenance Tips for Outdoor Faucets

When temperatures drop, water can freeze in outdoor faucets and the interior pipes that supply them, which may cause a pipe burst or damage the faucet itself. Avoid this plumbing problem with these plumbing tips for your to-do list:

  1. Find the water supply valve for each exterior plumbing faucet. This is an interior valve that is usually a few feet into the house on the interior pipes leading to the faucet. Check for the interior valve on pipes in the basement, crawl space, garage, or utility room.
  2. Shut the interior valve.
  3. Outside, open the water supply valve on the faucet so water is able to drain from the interior pipes. Do not shut the water valve – leave this water supply valve open for the winter so any water that does remain in the pipes can drain.
  4. If your outdoor faucets are older and not frost-free faucets that won’t freeze, there may be a drainage port on the interior valve near the water valve you closed. If so, set a bucket below it and open the port. This will let water drain out to prevent frozen pipes and outdoor faucets.

Prepare and Insulate the Home’s Pipes

Homeowners often experience frozen pipes during periods of freezing temperatures – especially if the home’s pipes are not properly insulated. When plumbing pipes are not properly insulated, pipes in unheated areas are the most vulnerable to freezing. If there is water freezing in the pipe, you could experience a pipe burst, and burst pipes are a leading cause of leaks and water damage over the winter months.

Prevent burst pipes when winter hits by taking time in the fall to make sure they are properly insulated. Insulate the home’s pipes that sit in unheated areas or where their surrounding areas are drafty, such as:

  • Pipes in Crawl Spaces
  • Pipes in Basements
  • Pipes in a Garage
  • Pipes in Exterior Walls
  • Pipes in Floor Spaces
  • Interior Pipes Leading to Exterior Plumbing

This fall, insulate the home’s pipes in the aforementioned areas to help them better retain heat and avoid freezing. Fiberglass or foam pipe insulation sleeves can be purchased and applied to home plumbing pipes as a step to our fall plumbing tips. Insulate both hot and cold plumbing pipes to best safeguard your house against burst pipes, leaks, and water damage this winter. You can also apply heat tape to warm the home’s plumbing pipes.

Sump Pump Fall Plumbing Maintenance Tips

Melting snow late in the winter is known to cause flooding issues in basements and crawlspaces as the groundwater levels rise, causing costly water damage. Before winter hits and temperatures drop, prepare the sump pump of your plumbing system with these fall plumbing maintenance tips so it can keep your house dry.

  1. Disconnect the sump pump from the electrical supply.
  2. Extract the sump pump from the sump basin.
  3. Check the sump pump for rust, corrosion, and physical damage.
  4. Clean off debris from the inlet screen.
  5. Remove any debris floating or within the sump basin to avoid clogging the drain lines.
  6. Reposition the sump pump back in the basin and connect it to the power supply.
  7. Pour a bucket of water into the basin and keep adding water until the float arm activates the sump pump.
  8. Watch the sump pump drain water from the basin to ensure it is functioning properly. It should shut off once the water level drops and lowers the float.
  9. Inspect discharge pipes and see to it that the drain full so no water will be able to freeze in the pipes. Pull out any debris blocking the opening of the drain.

Fall Plumbing Tips for the Water Heater

Ask Cincinnati area homeowners and they’ll tell you just how important the water heater is to the home’s plumbing system. Without some fall plumbing maintenance, the water heater may not efficiently provide warm water for the household. Take time to have the water heater inspected and use these fall plumbing tips to help your water heater run more efficiently.

Have your water heater inspected by a professional plumber each fall. Your plumber will inspect this important plumbing system appliance and make sure all components are functioning properly without leaks while the water heater supplies warm water at maximum energy efficiency. Feel free to ask questions during this visit.

Follow these plumbing tips to remove sediment buildup and debris from your tank water heater. Only perform this plumbing maintenance if your water heater tank is new or has been regularly maintained. Otherwise, washing sediment buildup out of the water heater could expose leaks that cause water damage and create the need to have a brand-new water heater installed.

  1. Turn off electricity or gas to the water heater.
  2. Shut the water supply valve on the incoming cold-water pipes.
  3. Connect a hose to the drain valve and place its other end in a nearby drain such as the kitchen sink or position it outdoors.
  4. Open the drain valve and let all warm water drain out of the water heater.
  5. Open the water supply valve and allow fresh water to run through the water heater and drain out, removing leftover debris and sediment buildup.
  6. Shut the drain valve on the water heater and allow it to refill with warm water.
  7. Disconnect, drain, and store hoses.
  8. Inspect for leaks in the tank and call a plumber if you need repairs for your system.

The Home’s Gutters and the Home’s Plumbing System

If the home’s gutters are not functioning properly, you could experience some issues with the home plumbing this winter holiday season. Gutters should drain all water away from the house and the immediate surrounding areas. If gutters have standing water or are clogged by debris, they can contribute to flooding and water damage in your basement, wreak havoc on your roofline, and even cause heating problems – not to mention damage to the actual gutters.

Prepare the home’s gutters this fall to safeguard your home's plumbing once winter starts. Fall plumbing tips concerning gutters will help your sump pump work more efficiently and reduce the risk of water damage requiring a professional plumber to correct with a permanent solution.

  1. Scoop debris out of gutters and downspouts so water can freely drain.
  2. Rinse small bits of debris and muck out of the gutters.
  3. Check the pitch of gutters, making sure no water is left to freeze inside the gutters.
  4. Check the connection between downspouts and gutters so the house isn’t damaged by unwanted exposure to water runoff.
  5. Check the ends of downspouts to make sure gutters drain water away from the home to surrounding areas on the property.

More Fall Plumbing Tips to Help You Prepare the Home’s Plumbing System

Over the fall, feel free to perform a complete inspection of the home’s plumbing pipes, faucets, and other components. Check for issues such as leaks and foul odors and prepare a plan to address these home plumbing issues now with a professional plumber.

  • Inspect faucets throughout the plumbing system for leaks. Tighten faucets on the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, shower, and bathtub to stop leaks and water waste this fall and winter.
  • Check home plumbing pipes you can access, inspect their condition, and look for leaks. Address leaks now to avoid the possibility of severe water damage a few short weeks into fall or winter.
  • Have a professional plumber clean the sewer line if you’ve noticed foul odors from a drain or multiple drains.
  • Clean the garbage disposal to eliminate foul odors.

Fall Plumbing Tips and Help from a Professional Plumber

The fall plumbing tips detailed in this blog will help you prepare for winter and avoid issues with your sewer line, water heater, sump pump, pipes, and more. If a plumbing issue does wreak havoc on your household at any point this fall or winter season, whether temperatures are freezing yet or not, call Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for quick, reliable service.

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