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Seasonal Tips

Before the frigid temps set in, here are a few things you should do to help prevent problems from occurring over the winter:

  • Disconnect outside water hoses
  • Check all outside faucets for drips or leaks – have any needed repairs made immediately
  • Close the shut-off valve(s) leading to outside faucets and drain remaining water from outside lines
  • Cover outside faucets using a Styrofoam faucet insulation kit available at  your local hardware store
  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as garages or crawl spaces. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing
  • Flush out your hot water heater. Drain several gallons of water from the faucet near the bottom of the tank to remove sediments. Connect a hose to the faucet and direct water into a nearby drain. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific questions related to your water heater
  • Check the temperature setting on your water heater’s thermostat. It should be set at 120°F.
  • Clear leaves and debris from outside gutters and downspouts
  • Inspect and clean sump pump and pit
  • When leaving home for extended periods, shut off the main water valve and drain the system by opening faucets at the highest and lowest points of the house. Make sure the heat is left on and set no lower than 55°F.
  • To prepare vacation homes or properties that will be unattended for longer periods of time, please contact a professional for winterization help

As the colder weather arrives, so do family and friends who have come to celebrate the holidays. The weather and added use by guests can sometimes cause a strain on your household water system. Try these simple tips to help maintain your system through these cold and busy months:

  • Keep grease and cooking oils out of your sink drains to prevent build-up and inevitably, clogs
  • Avoid using your garbage disposal as much as possible and keep hard-to-grind foods out of it all together – deposit food waste into a compost bin
  • If you must use the disposal, make sure to run the water  before you start putting food down the drain and  also while it is in use to help flush the particles through the system
  • Run the dishwasher during the night (set the delay feature if you have one) times to conserve hot water and maintain adequate water pressure for your guests
  • Ask guests to spread out showers throughout the day or at least to wait 10 minutes between showers rather than taking one right after another
  • If shower pressure is weak, pour a cup of vinegar into a plastic bag, place it over the shower head, and soak. Use a twist tie to hold it in place overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and use an old toothbrush to gently scrub off the mineral deposits to help restore water flow.

April showers can bring more than May flowers; it can also bring with it some less than pretty plumbing problems. To help avoid some of these disasters, try the following:

  • Open any shut-off valves leading to outside faucets
  • Check faucets for drips or leaks- have needed repairs made immediately
  • Ensure that all drains have strainers to prevent hair, soap and debris from clogging the drain lines.
  • Inspect exposed pipes for leaks
  • Inspect toilet tanks and bowls for cracks or leaks. You can test for hidden leaks by dropping a few drops of food coloring into the tank. If it seeps into the bowl without flushing, you have a leak somewhere
  • Exercise water supply valves under sinks and toilets to prevent them from sticking.
  • Clean mineral deposits from shower head using an overnight vinegar soak and scrubbing it with a toothbrush to remove mineral build-up.
  • Pour a gallon of water into infrequently used drains (including floor drains) in order for the trap to be filled which prevents odors from entering the house
  • Test your sump pump by pouring a few buckets of water into the sump pit to make sure it kicks on and functions properly
  • Flush out your hot water heater. Drain several gallons of water from the faucet near the bottom of the tank to remove sediments. Connect a hose to the faucet and direct water into a nearby drain. Refer to your owner’s manual for specific questions related to your water heater
  • Make sure flammables are not stored near the water heater or furnace
  • Clean out washing machine lint trap, if equipped, and place a wire trap or a piece of pantyhose over the end of the hose that drains the washer
  • Install a backflow valve in the floor drain if you live in an area where sewers sometimes backup into homes. This device will prevent future backups.
  • Install flood alarms. Like a smoke alarm, a flood alarm is a battery-operated device that sounds an alarm when it comes in contact with water. It alerts you to potential flooding or leaks.
  • Make sure yard drains, gutters and downspouts are cleaned out, open, and free of debris.
  • Check for bird nests in plumbing vent pipes.
  • Check faucets and hose bibs to make sure water flows freely. If an outdoor faucet drips or if there is leakage inside your home the first time the hose is turned on, you may have had a frozen pipe that cracked and needs to be replaced.

Here are some tips to help maintain your plumbing system throughout the hot summer months:

  • Check around the base of the toilet for signs of water damage (i.e.; rolled vinyl, black or white stains).
  • To check for a “soft floor,” stand straddled over the toilet and rock back and forth on each foot. If the floor feels spongy, it is probably rotting or weakened.
  • Check to see how fast the toilet flushes.
  • Check for leaky or loose tiles by pressing on the walls where they come in contact with the bathtub. If the walls are soft, water may have created damage behind the tiles.
  • Find the main line cleanout and ensure that it is accessible.
  • Check to make sure that the garbage disposal and dishwasher connections are tight and leak free
  • Check washing machine hoses for rupture. Turn valves on and off to test for leaks
  • Standing water is another common problem resulting from leaky or broken pipes. Excess water in a yard may be coming from a damaged sewer line and may contain waste from the home. Standing water is not healthy for children or pets, and is a breeding ground for insects and germs. Inspect the yard for areas that are too wet and with unusual plant or grass growth.