Prepare Your Central Indiana House for Winter with Our Fall Plumbing Maintenance Tips

In a few short weeks, the winter months will be upon us here in Central Indiana – and seasoned Hoosiers know that can mean freezing temperatures that aren’t very friendly to a home’s plumbing system. Over the fall season, homeowners should perform various fall plumbing maintenance tasks to prepare plumbing pipes, the water heater, sump pump system, outdoor faucets, and exterior plumbing for when temperatures drop.

Mr. Plumber helps you avoid a winter plumbing problem such as frozen pipes, burst pipes, sewer line clogs, and water damage, as well as the costly repairs needed to enforce a permanent solution to the issue. Our fall plumbing tips cover areas of the plumbing system such as:

  • Removing Sediment Buildup From Your Hot Water Heater
  • Winterizing Water Hoses and Outside Faucets
  • Testing the Sump Pump and Its Drain Lines
  • Cleaning the Home’s Gutters to Protect Plumbing
  • Avoiding Foul Odors From Your Kitchen Sink Garbage Disposal
  • Preventing Sewer Line Blockages
  • How to Insulate the Home’s Pipes to Prevent Frozen Pipes and a Pipe Burst

Take it from a professional plumber – if you have a pipe burst, this will wreak havoc on your family and house over the holiday season. Use our fall plumbing maintenance tips to prepare before winter hits and avoid home plumbing headaches caused by freezing water and leaks. If you need help with the plumbing maintenance tips on your fall to-do list, feel free to contact Mr. Plumber night or day.

Fall Plumbing Tips to Ensure the Home’s Pipes Are Properly Insulated

During periods of freezing temperatures, the home’s pipes, both interior pipes and exterior plumbing pipes, are at risk of damage or a pipe burst if you have water freezing within. Water expands when freezing, exerting pressure on pipes from the inside. Freezing water could create a blockage and frozen pipes, or cause pipes to break and form leaks, known as burst pipes.

Burst pipes have the potential to form severe leaks, resulting in significant water damage to surrounding areas that may go unnoticed for a time – this is not a discovery you want to make when hosting parties this holiday season! Prepare interior pipes to prevent freezing before temperatures drop as we move from fall to the winter months.

The best way to do so is to insulate interior pipes in high-risk and unheated areas of the house. Focus plumbing tips on unheated areas to ensure pipes are properly insulated in or along your:

  • Garage
  • Basement
  • Crawl Space
  • Floor Cavities
  • Exterior Walls

Special materials are made to insulate plumbing pipes and ensure they stay properly insulated to retain heat over the winter. You can insulate interior pipes by adding foam or fiberglass sleeves for pipes or applying heat tape directly to exposed copper or PVC supply pipes in unheated areas throughout the house. Insulate both hot and cold water supply plumbing piping for the best protection and energy efficiency.

Fall Plumbing Maintenance Tips for a Water Heater and Hot Water Tank

Central Indiana homeowners need a trusty water heater to access warm water for all sorts of tasks around the house, in the fall, winter, and throughout the year. When temperatures drop in the fall, it’s an ideal time to put water heater plumbing maintenance tips on your to-do list to ensure this plumbing appliance receives the attention it needs.

Have the Water Heater Inspected

You need to have the home’s plumbing system water heater inspected once each year – feel free to make this part of your fall plumbing maintenance routine. Having the water heater inspected allows a professional plumber to test its operation and inspect its condition so that any plumbing problem affecting appliance can be repaired to prevent leaks and water damage as well as improve its energy efficiency.

Drain Your Tank Water Heater

If your water heater is a storage tank-style system, you should drain the tank every six months or so as part of your routine plumbing maintenance work. If your house has very hard water, you may need to drain the tank more often.

There is one exception to this plumbing maintenance rule – don’t drain your water heating tank if it’s more than a few years old and you’ve never done so before! In this case, these regular fall plumbing maintenance tips could actually create a plumbing problem, like leaks. Sediment buildup can be helpful in plugging up leaks in the tank, and draining the water heater will expose the leaks and force you to replace this plumbing appliance to avoid water damage.

It’s important to flush out the storage tank to remove sediment buildup that naturally forms in the plumbing appliance. This sediment buildup makes it harder for the water heater to warm water, forcing the hot water heater to use excess electricity or natural gas to get the job done.

Follow these fall plumbing tips to drain your water heater:

  1. Shut off power and/or natural gas to the appliance.
  2. Shut the water supply valve on the cold-water interior pipes flowing into the water heater tank.
  3. Connect a hose to the drain valve of the water heater. Place the other end outside or in a drain close by, such as in the kitchen sink or a bathtub.
  4. Wait a while so that water temperatures drop to avoid burns and scalds while performing this plumbing maintenance task.
  5. Open the interior valve on the water heater drain, which will allow all warm water inside the tank to empty. As water exits the tank, it sweeps out debris and sediment buildup.
  6. Once the warm water is out of the tank, open the interior valve on the cold-water supply pipe. Let cold water run through the tank and drain out for several minutes to wash away any leftover sediment buildup.
  7. Shut the drain valve on the water heater and allow the tank to fill with fresh water.
  8. Disconnect the hose, drain it of all water, and store it inside the garage or utility shed so it’s not damaged by freezing over the winter months.
  9. Give the water heater time to increase water temperatures before using any warm water faucet in the house.
  10. Observe the water heater to verify it is functioning properly – watch for leaks, that will cause standing water on the floor of the surrounding areas. If you notice water heater leaks, feel free to schedule an appointment with your professional plumber for water heater repair or replacement.

Put Plumbing Maintenance Tips on Your to-Do List to Prepare the Home’s Gutters in Fall

While you may question what your home’s gutters have to do with the home plumbing system, issues with the gutters can actually cause more work for parts of your home’s plumbing. When the gutters are clogged or don’t drain properly, more water can infiltrate the foundation of the house, flooding the basement or crawlspace and creating more work for your sump pump after fall – this is why we include gutters on our list of fall plumbing tips.

Bad gutters can also damage the roofline with ice dams from freezing water, and even cause an outdoor heat pump to freeze up in the winter. Avoid issues with freezing temperatures once winter hits and prepare your gutters over the short weeks of fall to be safe with these maintenance tips:

  1. Remove debris caught within gutters and downspouts.
  2. Use hoses to rinse out gutters of fine debris and muck.
  3. Watch how the gutters drain – no water should stay in the gutters. Areas of the gutters with sitting water may need repaired or the pitch of the gutters may need to be corrected.
  4. Check how downspouts drain – they should send water runoff away, not toward the house. If you have downspout extensions on your gutters system, make sure they are secured to the ends of downspouts and routed to the surrounding areas where you intend to drain water.

Prevent a Frozen Hose or Burst Pipes to an Exterior Plumbing Faucet with These Fall Plumbing Tips

At the end of fall, it’s time to disconnect and store hoses for the winter and prepare exterior plumbing fixtures like outdoor faucets for freezing temperatures once winter hits. If you fail to prepare the exterior faucet for winter in the fall, hidden burst pipes could wreak havoc on your home for an extended period before you even detect the leaks!

Fall Plumbing Tips to Care for Exterior Plumbing Hoses

  1. Detach hoses from all outdoor faucets around the perimeter of the house and garage. Leaving hoses attached to a faucet over winter holds water within and could cause the faucet to break from a freeze.
  2. Let the hoses drain all water out. If you have water freeze inside hoses over winter, they may be too damaged to use without leaks come spring.
  3. Once dry, wind hoses and store them inside a garage, barn, or shed for the winter.

Fall Plumbing Tips to Prepare Outdoor Faucets for Winter

  1. Locate the interior pipes that run from the exterior plumbing faucet inward into the home – they will be in the crawlspace or basement, or even in a utility room for a house with a slab foundation.
  2. On the interior pipes, there will be a water supply valve on each supply pipe feeding outdoor faucets. Shut this interior valve to prevent water from flowing to outdoor faucets over the winter.
  3. Outside, open the water supply valve on each of the exterior plumbing faucets so water can drain out. Leave the water supply valve on the faucets open through winter and don’t shut it – with an open water supply valve, any water remaining inside or that enters the plumbing pipes to the faucet can drain, reducing the risk of frozen pipes and burst pipes.
  4. If your outdoor faucets are not frost-free and resistant to damage from a freeze, the interior pipes may have a drainage port located near the water valve. If your home’s plumbing system has such a port on these pipes, take an empty bucket and set it below the port. Open the port to drain remaining water from the pipes.

Fall Plumbing Tips for Sump Pump Maintenance

Once winter hits, Central Indiana can accumulate a great volume of snow throughout the holiday season. When temperatures begin to warm, snowmelt saturates the ground with water that can seep into the foundation of your house. Without a working sump pump system, you could have a flooded basement or crawlspace to deal with.

Prepare your home plumbing system sump pump for this end-of-winter task now in the fall. Make sure your sump pump is functioning properly with these plumbing maintenance tips:

  1. Shut off power to the sump pump system.
  2. Extract the sump pump from its basin.
  3. Look over the sump pump for physical damage, including rust and corrosion – feel free to call your plumber to inspect the sump pump and make repairs or replace it if needed.
  4. Clean off debris from the inlet screen.
  5. Scoop out any debris you see in the sump basin. Clean the basin if you notice foul odors.
  6. Reposition the sump pump back in the sump pit and restore power.
  7. Pour water into the basin until the float switch turns the sump pump on.
  8. Observe the sump pump as it removes water to verify it is functioning properly. The sump pump should shut off once water in the basin lowers to the set level.
  9. Check drainage lines that extend from the basin out of your home. Inspect them for cracks and damage, indicating the need for replacement or repairs.
  10. Inspect the drain opening of the pipes and remove debris that are stopping water from fully draining out of the discharge pipes.
  11. Make sure the sump pump system will drain water to the appropriate surrounding areas at least 20 feet away from the house.

More Fall Plumbing Tips to Perform Before Winter

Here are additional fall plumbing tips to help you prep your home plumbing system for winter temperatures that are to come.

  • Inspect indoor home plumbing fixtures, faucets, and pipes for leaks and repair them now.
  • Examine home plumbing pipes you are able to access, looking for visible damage, corrosion, rust, cracks, and other indicators that leaks could form.
  • Have the sewer line cleaned out by your professional plumber to stop slow drainage in the house as well as foul odors from drains.
  • Clean the kitchen sink disposal to eliminate odors.

Get Fall Plumbing Help for Your Central Indiana Home Plumbing System

A Central Indiana home’s plumbing can be vulnerable to cold temperatures that come after fall, and the resulting problems most certainly will wreak havoc on unfortunate homeowners this winter. Avoid fall plumbing problems when you ready your home’s plumbing piping, fixtures, and appliances with Mr. Plumber’s plumbing tips for fall. If you have questions about our fall plumbing tips or need fall plumbing services before temperatures crawl closer to freezing, call us today to request an appointment.

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