We may have had an unusually mild autumn here in Olathe, but now winter is near and the weather is getting colder every day! Winter weather impacts homeowners in a lot of ways, from requiring you to shovel the snow out of the driveway to making you watch your heating bill creep ever upward. One thing that we don't often think about that can become a huge problem for homeowners is the impact of freezing weather on plumbing and pipes.
Of course, the biggest plumbing-related danger that comes with plummeting temperatures is freezing pipes. If pipes freeze they can also burst, which may lead to flooding and water damage—something that is neither cheap nor easy to fix, especially in the dead of winter. Some pipes may be more prone to freezing due to their location in your home. Any plumbing that's outside of the house itself, as well as pipes in exterior walls and exposed pipes located in unheated areas of your home such as unfinished basements or attics, may be especially at risk. And of course if you've ever had problems with freezing pipes before, you'll want to keep an eye on those areas this year, too.
So how do you keep pipes from freezing? Exposed interior pipes can be wrapped in foam pipe insulation, which should usually be adequate for the kinds of temperatures we experience in Olathe. (Chillier climes may need to resort to special heat tape that is controlled by a thermostat.) It's also a good idea to check for drafts in unheated areas of your house. If the cold weather is getting in, that's bad for your pipes and for your heating bill.
Leaving one faucet turned on just enough to drip is a good idea during the coldest nights of the year. That will keep the water moving through your pipes, which will help prevent them from freezing. The faucet that's farthest away from where the water comes into your house is usually your best bet.
It's also a good idea to unhook garden hoses from the outside of your house—and when you do, make sure you also close the interior shut-off valve leading to your outdoor spigot. When garden hoses stay hooked up, they tend to store water, which can freeze and expand, leading to frozen pipes. (It's also no good for your garden hose!)
If you're headed out of town for a long trip—such as visiting family for the holidays—you can help protect your pipes and save yourself some money by shutting off the water and draining the system before you leave. If you do that, make sure you also flush all the toilets to drain the water out of the tanks, otherwise the water could freeze if something happens to your furnace while you're away. Still want to be on the safe side? Pick up some non-toxic marine antifreeze and pour it into the toilet bowl while you're gone.
Optimally, you don't want things to get too cold in your house while you're away, though, so be sure to leave the furnace on, and set it no lower than 55 degrees. You can also save some cash by turning your water heater down. Most water heaters have a "vacation" or "low" setting that you can set them to while you're out of town.
Speaking of water heaters, if yours is going to go out, then chances are it's going to do it when the weather outside is at its most frightful! So if you're concerned about your water heater, contact Davenport Service Company for Olathe water heater repair or replacement by calling 913-441-2222 today!