(ARA) – That first chilly autumn morning is the perfect reminder that when winter arrives it can be sudden, often leaving homeowners unprepared for the plumbing problems associated with cold weather. Our friends in the Northeast can attest to this, as they’ve already had their first snowstorm of the season. The number of frozen pipe claims nearly tripled nationally from 2008 to 2009, to more than 26,000 claims. This hassle and extra expense is easily prevented with a couple hours worth of weekend chores or a quick call to your local plumber.
People in northernmost states should take preventive action to protect their plumbing systems by late October. Southerners should follow by late November. Failure to prepare early might prove costly when pipes freeze, which is why the plumbing experts at Roto-Rooter recommend taking these winterization precautions early, when time is on your side, instead of waiting until cold weather arrives.
These 10 tips that can save you a bundle are easily managed in between raking leaves and carving pumpkins.
* Disconnect outside water hoses. If left connected during freezing temperatures, water in hoses will freeze and expand causing connecting faucets and pipes to freeze and break.
* Inspect outside faucets. If dripping or leaking, make the necessary repairs or call a plumber before a freeze.
* If your home is equipped with interior shut-off valves leading to outside faucets, close them and drain water from the pipes.
* Cover outside faucets using an inexpensive faucet insulation kit.
* Insulate pipes in unheated areas. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around exposed pipes.
* Make sure your furnace is set no lower than 55 degrees during the winter to prevent pipes from freezing. Note that when pipes freeze, water pressure builds causing cracks, whether the pipe is made of plastic, copper or steel. Even a tiny crack can unleash 250 gallons of water in a single day.
* Your water heater works harder during winter months. Drain corrosion-causing sediment from the tank, which reduces energy efficiency if it’s not removed.
* Set water heater thermostat to 120 F for optimum performance without risk of scalding.
* Clear any leaves and debris from roof gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage throughout the winter season.
* Inspect and clean sump pit. Remove any rocks and debris from pit then dump a bucket of water into the sump pit to test the pump. If it turns on and pumps water out then turns itself off, it is operating properly.
Visit www.RotoRooter.com/plumbing-basics to view an instructional video on winter plumbing preparation and what to do in the event that a pipe does burst. Become a fan on Facebook to stay up-to-date on plumbing tips for every season.