Why is it Important to Prepare Plumbing Systems for Winter?

Posted on December 30th, 2015 by carrolladmin

With the holidays behind us and temperatures feeling much more seasonal it’s time to admit that it’s finally winter in Central Virginia!  Although by now you’re probably ready for colder temperatures, and maybe even the potential for some Richmond snowfall, it’s important not to forget some basic tasks that should be tended to around your home. Whether you’re traveling this season, or hibernating at home, give your plumbing a once over to make sure it’s ready for upcoming drops in temperature.

Plumbing systems are incredibly susceptible to freezing in the winter months.  Once outdoor temperatures drop to 32° or lower—even if only for a brief period of time—plumbing lines and pipes can freeze.  Best case scenario, it’s a simple fix, but more often than not frozen pipes are a very costly emergency repair.

Make preventative maintenance a top priority

If you haven’t had your plumbing system inspected recently, or ever, now is as good a time as any!  With temperatures dipping lower, making sure your plumbing system is prepared can prevent expensive and inconveniencing repairs, but also ensure optimum comfort and safety both inside and outside of your home.

Preventative maintenance is a comprehensive service.  At Carroll Plumbing & Heating Inc. our technicians cover all aspects of your plumbing system.  These services are the best way to prevent the numerous plumbing emergencies homeowners may experience this winter season.  As an added bonus, our technicians can also give you helpful tips and offer assistance in further winterizing your home.

Preventative maintenance includes:

  • Identifying and repairing any water leaks—even the smallest drip can cause big problems when temperatures drop.
  • Checking for signs of corrosion—this type of damage can actually cause leaks and bad connections if not repaired.
  • Inspecting the water heater—when internal corrosion and sediment builds up, it can damage the unit.  Flush the tank and calibrate temperatures, when necessary.  
  • Testing water pressure—low water pressure can indicate sediment build up inside the fixtures, but it can also be a sign of a water line issue.
  • Insulating exposed plumbing—pipes in basements or those running near exterior walls are most susceptible to freezing.
  • Inspecting and servicing your heat pump, furnace or other heating equipment to ensure it runs properly.  This is important for efficiency and performance, but protection for your plumbing system as well.   Our technicians can perform these additional services at your request during preventative plumbing maintenance.


Winter preparation tips for homeowners

In addition to scheduling preventative maintenance, homeowners can do their part to ensure their plumbing system is prepared for winter.  Here are some homeowner basics:

  • Clean gutters and downspouts to prevent clogging and freezing.
  • Detach and empty residual water from garden hoses to prevent freezing and cracking.
  • Turn off and drain the irrigation system.
  • Store away portable grills, seasonal patio furniture and gardening tools, etc. in the garage or shed.
  • Check windows and doors for drafts.  Use weather stripping, caulk or other solutions like door rolls to seal drafts.
  • Know the location of your water shut off valve.  If an emergency like a pipe break or leak occurs, you must immediately shut off water supply.

Suspect a frozen pipe?

Even with preventative maintenance and homeowner action, it’s unfortunate, but some people still experience frozen pipes. While the repair hopefully isn’t as expensive or catastrophic as it would have been without maintenance, it’s still a problem to address.  Here are some of signs that your pipes are frozen…

  • Upon activating a faucet, either no water or only small drips come out.
  • You notice frost collecting on interior pipes like those underneath sinks.
  • After flushing a toilet, the bowl doesn’t refill itself.
  • When one fixture works, but not another, like the bathroom shower runs without problem, but not the toilet.  

Related:  Tips for preventing frozen pipes

Traveling this season?

Do you plan to travel this winter, or leave your home vacant for an extended period of time?  Protect your plumbing, as well as the entire property while you’re away. Here are some tips…

  • Schedule preventative maintenance before you leave town—this will cover all of the basics.
  • The general rule of thumb is if you intend to leave the water supply on, leave the heat on as well, but dial it back to around 55°.
  • Open cabinets underneath faucets to give interior plumbing additional exposure to heat.
  • Notify a trusted neighbor or friend of your absence.  Give them contact information, but also access to your home in case of a plumbing or heating emergency.  

Quality, professional service

Scheduling preventative maintenance and performing some basic homeowner tasks can go a long way in protecting your home and your plumbing system this winter.  The technicians at Carroll Plumbing & Heating Inc. can provide a full inspection of your system, as well as answer any questions you may have about winterizing your home and maintaining optimum efficiency.

Contact Carroll Plumbing & Heating Inc. today to learn more about our heating and plumbing services.