Preparing Your Plumbing For Fall And Winter

by Connor Pena

Fall and winter are both times when temperature changes can lead to plumbing problems inside and outside the home. That's why it's a good idea to prepare your home for the coming season. Making small changes to your home's plumbing before the cold weather comes can help prevent burst pipes and unnecessary wear and tear on your hot water heater.

Disconnect Your Garden Hose

Your garden hose is connected to a faucet that goes into your home. If the water in the garden hose freezes during the course of the winter, this could cause the faucet leading into your home to likewise freeze, which could cause a chain reaction resulting in a burst pipe. Even if the ice doesn't back up into your home, frozen water in your garden hose could cause the hose itself to deteriorate. To prevent problems, disconnect your garden hose from the exterior faucet, then put the hose into storage for the winter.

Insulate Your Pipes

Insulating your pipes can prevent them from freezing on long, cold nights when the temperatures are very low. Self-adhesive pipe insulation is available for sale at home improvement centers and hardware stores across the country. To install pipe insulation, simply cut down the insulation to the proper size, then wrap each piece of insulation around the corresponding pipes.

Inspect Your Hot Water Heater

Your home's hot water heater may get hard use throughout the winter as you and other members of your family warm up under extra-hot showers. In addition, many hot water heaters are located in cold areas of the house, like the garage or the basement, which makes it harder for your hot water heater to keep water warm. Inspecting your hot water heater at the beginning of the fall will help you decide whether or not your hot water heater is up to these challenges. When inspecting your hot water heater, check for the following:

  • Rust, scale or buildup on the outside of the hot water tank.
  • Puddles of water beneath the tank.
  • Dribbles of water coursing down the side of the tank.
  • Evidence of soot on the exterior of the tank.
  • Very loud, popcorn-like sound when the water heater is working.

If you do find evidence of deterioration on the outside of your hot water heater, contact a reputable plumber in your area. He or she can answer your questions and help you decide whether or not you need a new hot water heater.