Knowhow-Now Article

Properly Protecting Pipes Against The Elements

How many times have you thought about doing something to protect your plumbing but just never followed through with it? The fact of the matter is that most homeowners become complacent with their plumbing, assuming that no troubles will arise in 2013 since they didn't in years previous. However, pipes and connections get weaker with age, and therefore it's essential that you take steps to protect your pipes against the elements.

Tip: Pump your septic tank about once every five years, to make sure it is working well. This will stop any buildup in your septic tank and prevent any horrible issues.

Pipe insulation is a key step in ensuring that your pipes are protected. The good news here is that pipe insulation is very inexpensive and very easy to install. It comes as a grey foam sleeve, already split and ready to put over your pipes. All you have to do is cut it to its proper length and place over your exposed pipes. It couldn't be easier.

Tip: Get the appropriate tools, and know exactly how to use them before you start working on your plumbing. Read each and every manual, and utilize the information that can be found in libraries and the Internet about do-it-yourself projects.

Do you know where all the on-off valves are for all your different fixtures? You have a main valve for the home, a pair of valves for each sink, your washing machine, and also valves for your toilet, your hot water heater, and anything else that takes water. Knowing the locations of these valves will enable you to protect them and check them periodically when the weather changes.

Tip: Stay away from bleach tablets, blue tablets for the toilet and other toilet odor removers. While they are good at removing odors, they have a detrimental effect on the parts of the toilet that are rubber.

When the weather is bitterly cold, it's a good idea to let a faucet run slightly. If you have a dripping faucet, it's actually in your best interest to not repair it until the springtime. The running water will keep the pipes from freezing, even if it's barely running. The moving water inside the pipes is less likely to freeze up.

Tip: Never reach into a garbage disposal that you think isn't working. Garbage disposals can be dangerous, even if they are powered off.

One of the best ways to protect your pipes during the winter is to allow the warm air to circulate around them. This can be done simply by opening up your cabinet doors under your sink. This allows the warm air in and will most likely keep those pipes from freezing up. Make it a habit to open up those cabinet doors in the wintertime.

Tip: A strainer should be placed over all the drains in order to gather particles that would just get in the drain and potentially cause stoppage. Every time you have large particles in the strainer of the kitchen sink, it should be cleaned thoroughly.

Garden hoses tend to hold onto a lot of water, especially when they're coiled up and stored. If the water freezes inside, it will expand and could potentially cause cracks in the hose. That's just wasted money. And what's worse is that the water could back up into the faucet connection, freeze and expand, and cause a lot of damage. Remove the hose and insulate the connection in the winter.

Tip: If you get your water from a well and orange or pink stains appear in your sink or tub, then you can be sure that the culprit is iron in your water. To get rid of this problem, you can either use a commercial product to soften the water, or have a contractor come to your home and do the work for you.

You never really know whether or not your pipes are properly protected unless you're checking on them periodically. You should try to remember to check your pipes every week or so, looking for leaks, faulty connections, or weak spots where the weather has been getting to them. Look in your basement, closets, attic, and at outside pipes to ensure everything is operating smoothly.

In a lot of locations around the country, wintertime doesn't wreak that much havoc on the plumbing. However, in some spots, winter is the time when pipes freeze, crack, and cost homeowners a lot of time, money and grievance. Avoid these issues by taking steps to protect the pipes in your home.

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