Winter weather is coming to West Jordan. And with overnight lows averaging 30 degrees or lower from November through February, now’s the time to prepare your plumbing for colder temperatures. Follow these expert tips from All Star Service & Repair to keep your pipes flowing smoothly all winter long.
Winterize Outdoor Water Fixtures
Here in Utah, grass and perennial plants go dormant over the winter. After watering your lawn and garden for the last time, winterize your outdoor water fixtures with these tips:
- Turn the shutoff valve for each outdoor spigot. Remember to open the faucet and drain out any remaining water from the pipe before closing it for good.
- Disconnect, drain and store your garden hoses in the shed or garage for the winter.
- Consider installing frost-free sillcocks, which protect the valve, seat and washer from freezing by locating them up to 18 inches inside the wall instead of directly at the faucet.
- Install insulated covers over outdoor hose bibs to slow heat loss from the pipe as water travels through the wall and out into the cold.
- Blow out the sprinkler system to remove standing water from the underground pipes.
Maintain the Water Heater
Winter is the season you rely on your water heater the most, which makes fall the perfect time for maintenance. You can perform these tasks yourself or leave them to a professional plumber:
- Shut off the gas or electricity powering the water heater and close the water inlet valve. Once the water heater has cooled down a bit, open one hot water faucet to a slow drizzle to release pressure while you work.
- Lift up on the pressure-release valve to ensure it’s functional. If water doesn’t drip out when you do this, replace the valve as soon as possible.
- Check the anode rod once every three years. To access it, loosen the hex head screw on top of the water heater and lift the rod out. Replace it if it’s coated in calcium or corroded through to help prevent corrosion inside the tank.
- Perform a mini-flush to remove sediment from the bottom of the tank. Simply set a bucket under the drain valve and fill it a few times until the water runs clear.
- Open the water inlet valve and turn the gas or electricity back on.
- From now on, set the water heater temperature to 120 degrees instead of 140 degrees to save on standby heat loss and prevent scalding at the tap.
Treat Your Garbage Disposal with Care
The kitchen sink is already the most-used sink in the house, and holiday cooking and baking only increase the workload for the garbage disposal. To keep it running smoothly, follow these tips:
- Never dispose of cooking grease, bones, fruit pits, potato peels, egg shells or corn husks in the kitchen sink. These are terrible for your garbage disposal because they can clog the drain, dull the blades, or wrap themselves around the blades and burn out the motor.
- Feed items into the disposal slowly.
- Always run cold water before, during and for several seconds after operating the disposal.
- Occasionally grind lemon peels and ice cubes to freshen up the disposal and clean the blades.
- Run the disposal at least once every few days to prevent rust and corrosion.
Use Heat Cables and Insulation on Vulnerable Plumbing
Protect pipes in the unheated attic, basement, crawlspace or garage by installing electrical heat cables. These generate a small amount of heat using an integrated thermostat to automatically turn the cables on and off as needed to keep the pipes from freezing when the temperature plummets outside.
To help heat cables perform more efficiently, consider covering them with insulating sleeves. Just remember – using pipe insulation without heat cables doesn’t accomplish much. In fact, this technique may prevent warm air from reaching the pipes. Therefore, if you choose to insulate your plumbing, be sure to install heat cables first.
Add Insulation to Unconditioned Spaces
While heating and insulating pipes in the attic, basement, crawlspace or garage can prevent them from freezing, you can take a different approach and insulate the entire unconditioned space. Maintaining a slightly higher temperature in these rooms not only protects your plumbing, but it also reduces your home’s overall heating costs. Here are some tips for sealing and insulating unconditioned spaces in your home:
- Seal cable, air duct and pipe penetrations in the attic floor with caulk or expanding spray foam. Then, insulate the floor with fiberglass or cellulose insulation.
- Use caulk or expanding spray foam to seal gaps in the rim joists that run along the top of the foundation walls in the basement or crawlspace. Then, install insulation between the floor joists.
- Insulate the garage door or install a new one with internal foam. Then, remember to keep the garage door closed when the temperature drops outside.
Protect Pipes on Particularly Cold Nights
On sub-zero winter nights, it’s wise to run a slow trickle of water from a faucet attached to vulnerable plumbing, especially if you live in a mobile home where cold air circulates below the floor. The dribble from the tap may increase your water consumption that night, but the pressure won’t build up inside the plumbing, preventing freezing temperatures from bursting your pipes.
Protect Your Plumbing While You’re Away
If you travel for the holidays or head south for the winter, turn off the water behind critical appliances, such as the washing machine and freezer, before you leave. For more comprehensive protection against plumbing leaks and frozen pipes, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve. Remember to open a faucet to drain the pipes.
Also, refrain from turning your thermostat completely off. Instead, set it to 50 degrees or higher at all times. It may cost a few extra dollars to heat an empty house, but this is much less expensive than dealing with frozen pipes upon your return. For the greatest effect, leave under-sink cabinet doors open to circulate warm air around the pipes.
Know Who to Call if You Need Plumbing Services this Winter
Whether your water heater starts acting up, garbage disposal stops working or pipes freeze, you need an experienced plumber to get things running smoothly again. All Star Service & Repair is a reliable plumber in Salt Lake County with over 60 years of experience serving our community. We strive to help you prevent plumbing emergencies and assist with problems as they arise.
For more useful plumbing tips, or to schedule services for your home in West Jordan or the surrounding areas, please contact us today. We offer 24-hour service to ensure we’re here for you when you need us most!