Second only to heating, your home’s plumbing system is a priority when it comes to household maintenance for Canadians during the winter months. In fact, heat is the only thing standing between your home and complete disaster once the mercury drops. Whether you’re new to homeownership or simply need a refresher, we’ve compiled a list of the top winter plumbing tips to amplify your home’s protection against winter’s wrath!
Turn Off the Outside Tap – Due to its location and potential for exposure, your home’s outdoor tap and the connecting water lines can easily freeze. Before the first frost, locate the water shutoff valve that is nearest to the outdoor faucet, and turn it off. You can usually find it in your basement. Afterwards, go to the tap and turn it on for a few moments to drain it completely. This will prevent the water in the line from freezing, expanding, and ultimately bursting your pipe. A burst water pipe is extremely messy and expensive, allowing water to flood until it is detected and stopped. This water damage will affect nearby walls, flooring, ceilings, and your home’s structure, requiring full replacement to repair the damage and prevent mould.
Insulate Exposed Pipes – Any exposed pipes that are vulnerable to the cold should be adequately insulated to prevent them from bursting. Pay special attention to pipes in uninsulated or unheated areas of your home such as crawl spaces, additions, or other places such as those running along the home's exterior walls. Pipes that don’t receive heat from your home’s HVAC system need extra protection from the cold.
Give Your Water Heater Some Attention – Your water heater works hard for you, especially during the winter months. Consider having it flushed by a licensed plumbing professional to remove sediment and mineral build-up, which can cause it to work harder than it needs to. You’ll not only extend its lifespan, but you will also reap the benefits on your utility bills. Your 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. While the plumber is at your home, have them inspect it and address any other plumbing-related issues at the same time, to save yourself additional service calls in the future.
Identify the Location of Your Main Water Valve – Should the worst happen, and you experience a burst pipe, you’ll need to immediately shut off all water in the home. You should know where this shut-off is located so that you can respond quickly.
Be Kind to Your Kitchen Drains - Winter means holiday entertaining, which adds to the burden on your drains. The disposal of cooking-related messes, leftovers, and table scraps can significantly impact your home’s plumbing system. Never allow grease or oil to be poured down your drains, even the toilet! Don’t forget your garbage disposal; once it has finished its job, shut it off and run plenty of water down the drain to clear the system for the next time you need it.
Check Your Sump Pump - When spring comes, the last thing you want is to discover that your sump pump is not working properly. Your home’s sump pump is your first line of defence against a flooded basement and the costly damage that will cause. While you are winterizing your home’s plumbing, this is the time to test your sump pump or clean its pit.
Deal With Other Outdoor Issues - You’re probably not going to use your garden hose again for a few months unless you’re building an outdoor ice rink. Drain and store your hose, perform maintenance on any eavestroughs draining into water barrels, and address any drafts that may cause pipes to freeze.
Consider a Plumbing Inspection – A licensed plumber can help you to identify potential issues before they become serious. A professional can look for leaks, help you to insulate any exposed pipes and inspect and maintain your water heater. In one short visit, you’ll benefit from the peace of mind that your home’s water and plumbing systems are fit for purpose, regardless of whatever mother nature throws your way.
As your local GTA plumbing and drain experts, Sewer Squad knows the damage that winter can cause to your home; our team of licensed plumbing professionals are ready to help you ensure your home’s systems are safe and working optimally and efficiently! Whether you have an existing plumbing concern or are keen to learn more proactive winter plumbing tips, reach out to us today at 416-571-8499.