Every year, thousands of people call the plumber to visit the home due to a burst pipe that had frozen. Depending on your circumstance, you could include the help of the city to shut off the water as your own shutoff valve is seized. It’s bad enough to face a flood in the basement during the summer, but a winter flood can compound the problem in a variety of ways. How do you maintain your plumbing in order to stave off a miserable holiday incident?
1. Hard Water Valve Maintenance – Calcium and lime deposits can form on your pipes and valves over time which can cause them to seize up. In the event of an emergency, you may be unable to disable water to a particular part of the house and require a complete shut off from the water company or city. This can cost you a great deal of money and could cause damage to the home or your possessions. Periodically examining your valves can keep you apprised of required maintenance. If you catch the buildup in time, a simple bottle of CLR can clear up the deposit and allow you to turn the valve. If you are still unable to move it, you may want to have a professional examine it before an accident occurs.
2. Heat Tape – Some homes are subjected to having pipes exposed due to inadequate shielding from the elements. This is quite common in trailers that don’t have proper skirting or houses that have compromised footings to allow cold air under the home. By wrapping the plumbing lines in heat tape, you can help stave off a freeze which could lead to a burst pipe. Floods that happen under the home could continue to form creating a mess that the residents are unaware of. Before long, the entire yard and neighbor’s home could be compromised due to the water. Secure your pipes and protect them from freezing temperatures.
3. Under Sinks – Not every home can utilize heat efficiently. Rooms that seem too cold to remain in could be too cold for the pipes as well. Often times, bathrooms and kitchens could suffer a freeze in the lines from under the sinks themselves. However, these problems usually occur in trailers or homes that don’t have adequate protection or insulation. Take the time to investigate the possibility of adding insulation to the area or otherwise develop a strategy to make the home more efficient when the heater is on.
4. Dripping Faucets – You may be able to live with the sound of a faucet slowly dripping in the middle of the night, but it’s costing you money to do so. Over time, that slow drip could turn into a steady stream. As rubber seals are inexpensive, you can quickly replace it for under five dollars. Some homeowners have gone far enough to replace the entire unit with a “seal-less” faucet so the problem will never happen again.
Fighting a water hazard in the middle of winter is a miserable experience. By maintaining your plumbing properly, you can prevent your home from being subjected to such freezing and cost related problems. As most repairs and maintenance can be done by the homeowner, the only thing stopping you is motivation to protect your home. When was the last time you inspected your main water shutoff valve?