Prepare Your Pipes!
The temperatures are dropping here in Seattle and the rain is starting to fall. Now is the time to take preemptive steps to protect your plumbing before it gets colder and issues start to crop up. By taking these protective measures now, you can prevent many plumbing problems caused by cold weather. The items on our fall plumbing checklist most homeowners can accomplish themselves, but if you want a thorough pre-winter plumbing check-up, contact the professionals at Budget Sewer.
#1 Check your water pressure
You can pick up a water pressure gauge at The Home Depot for about $10. Normal water pressure will average 35-80 psi. An easy place to attach it may be to the water outlet on your washing machine since it’s easy to get to. Shut off the valve, unhook the washing machine line (don’t let it hang down or you’ll get a spill).
Attach the gauge then turn the valve back on slowly. Once the needle stops moving, read the gauge. Close the valve, wait a couple of minutes and then repeat the process to make sure you’re getting a consistent reading. If it’s below 50 psi or above 75 psi, you may have a problem in your pipes.
#2 Check your drains
Go through your house faucet by faucet and turn on the tap. Let the water run and watch to see if the sink is draining slowly. Also turn on the water in the shower and your bathtubs and check for slow drainage. Turn them on high so some water builds up in the basin to ensure it’s draining nice and fast. If it’s not, this may be a sign of trouble brewing that you want to get checked by a plumber. Check your toilets for proper flushes too – you may not notice that they’re draining slow when you’re sitting down!
#3 Look for leaks
On sinks, look under the counter for leaks from the pipes and also around the taps. Listen for running water in the toilet tank when it’s not in use. Listen for shower drips. Check your garden hose for drips. Check radiators, water line to your fridge ice maker and your clothes and dish washers. Then check your main water meter.
Read it before you leave for a couple of hours. Make sure there’s nothing using water while you’re gone (dishwasher, clothes washer, etc) then read the meter again when you get back. If the number has moved by more than a gallon or so, you may have a leak somewhere.
#4 Unhook your garden hoses
We don’t usually go sub-zero up here in the Pacific Northwest but it does happen (remember the Thanksgiving snow storm of 2010?). Just in case really cold weather crops up, you should unhook your garden hoses from their faucets and store them somewhere that doesn’t get too cold.
If you’re feeling really confident, you can also close the interior shut off valves to drain water from the outside lines just in case it gets frigid. If this is outside of your comfort zone, no worries.
#5 Adjust your water heater
Before colder weather blows in, adjust the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees to get the best performance in winter months. This is also a great time of year to make sure you don’t have sediment build-up in your water heater that can make it operate inefficiently and increase costs of heating water this winter.
If you’re not sure how to do this, we can help while we give your house an overall plumbing check-up.
#6 Know where your main water valve is
Your main water valve shuts off the water coming from the utility company into your home. If you have a pipe burst or other leak crop up, you need to turn off this valve to keep water from pouring out. Know where it is ahead of time and make sure you and other family members know how to shut it off in case you’re not the one home when a water problem crops up. It’s relatively simple to do once you know how.
If any of these fall maintenance steps turns up a problem, contact the plumbing experts at Budget Sewer. We can check it out and take care of a small problem before it turns into a big one. Small leaks can turn into a big mess that can damage your home and require more costly repairs. It’s always faster and cheaper to take care of problems in early stages. Contact Budget Sewer today for a free estimate.