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.