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Frozen faucet in the winter time.

The Ultimate Winter Plumbing Tips

 |  Blog, Plumbing

Keep everything in your home in good condition and running as efficiently as possible before the cooler months arrive. Planning ahead can prevent problems from occurring and make those that do occur easier to deal with. The following are several important tips to keep all your plumbing running smoothly this winter..

Know Where Your Main Water Valve Is Located

It is very common for these valves to seize in Arizona’s hard water and become non-operational. If your main shut off valve does not turn easily or breaks, a professional plumber will be able to help.

Check Your Water Heater

You’ll want to make sure your water heater is in top condition before cooler weather sets in. A water heater should be flushed several times each year to remove sediment that can build up. It’s also important to periodically check the valves for any leaks. It’s a good idea to bring in a professional to check the heater and make sure the process of flushing and checking for leaks is done correctly. They can also provide any type of maintenance or repairs that are needed.

Watch Your Holiday Cooking

It’s important not to pour oils and grease down the kitchen drain. Certain foods, such as rice, should never be put into the drain, even with a garbage disposal. Rice will expand and create a block in the drain. Always run cold water for 10 to 15 seconds before and after using the disposal. Finally, don’t wait to turn the disposal on when it’s already full of food. Turn the garbage disposal on first and then slowly put the food into the drain.

Space-out Showers

If you’re planning on having a houseful of relatives or guests during the holidays it’s important to space out showers. Try to keep an interval of 10 to 15 minutes between each shower. This will allow an average water heater to recover and provide hot water for the next person. While it depends on the size of your home and your water heater, it’s probably not a good idea to run the dishwasher or wash clothes if several individuals will be taking showers.

Watch the Water Pressure

Maintaining the right amount of water pressure in a home is often a balancing act. You want enough pressure to take comfortable showers and to work in the kitchen. Too much pressure, however, can stress fixtures and pipes. You can purchase a pressure gauge from most hardware stores to check the water pressure in your home. If the Pressure is near or at 80 psi, a pressure reducing valve is highly recommended. If the pressure is above 80 psi a pressure reducing valve is required by most plumbing codes.

Insulate your Pipes

On freezing cold nights, ice may form in the pipes in your home. This can cause the pipe to burst. Water expands when it freezes and it only takes one night of low temperatures to cause damage. Make sure all of the exposed pipes outdoors are covered with pipe insulation.This can be found in most hardware stores. It can also be helpful to have the pipes in your attic insulated. Insulated covers are inexpensive and easy to install.

Seal Cracks Around Pipes

There are lots of ways cold air can get in and around pipes. Drafts and insects can more easily make their way into your home through even small cracks and openings around pipes. Make sure to seal open areas with expandable foam. Depending on the types of pipes and cracks you find, you may also want to use canned spray foam or some type of calking. After you’ve completed all the sealing and insulating, make sure you’ll have combustion air coming through a specific makeup air pipe for the furnace.

Keep Plumbing Contact Information Handy

You never know when an emergency may arise. You’ll want to be able to quickly contact a professional if necessary, especially around the holidays. Keep your plumber’s information on your phone and written down as well. If you don’t have a regular plumber, the time to research plumbers and find one is before you need one. Check to see if the plumber you’ve chosen makes 24/7 emergency plumbing visits, or a plumbing repair that requires extra attention.

Following these tips will help your plumbing system operate more effectively throughout the winter months. It’s always a good idea to be prepared and to minimize the possibility of potential problems.