How to prepare your plumbing for seasonal changes?

Dramatic weather pattern changes between temperatures, precipitation levels, winds, and storm systems mean your home’s water and sewer infrastructure must adapt right along with the outdoor conditions. Taking some DIY preventative measures and scheduling seasonal professional plumbing maintenance checks will go a long way to avoiding the inconvenience of spring leaks, frozen winter pipes, flooding basements, and other problems.

Assess pipe insulation needs

One of your first preparatory steps before winter rears its frosty head involves checking all exposed water supply pipes for adequate insulation coverage. It includes hot and cold water pipes in attics, crawl spaces, basements, garages, and even buffered outdoor hose bib lines. If any existing pipe sleeve insulation has become waterlogged, damaged, or slipped off, replace it right away. Expanding foam, fiberglass, or rubber pipe insulation does an excellent job controlling temperature fluxes that cause pipes to alternately thaw and refreeze. This thermal stress can eventually crack rigid pipe materials. Insulation regulates this expansion and contraction cycle to prevent breaks. Pay particular attention to wrapping vulnerable copper pipes prone to quicker chill saturation.

Install heat trace wire

For at-risk water supply lines vulnerable to freezing in spaces like attics near vented eaves or basements with chilly concrete foundation walls, consider going beyond mere insulation by installing heat trace wire. This involves running a specialized low-voltage electrical heating cable alongside the length of pipes. Once activated, the heat trace wire emanates just enough warmth to keep vulnerable water lines safely above the 32-degree Fahrenheit freezing mark through even the coldest winter nights. Used as critical supplemental protection on top of pipe insulation, heat trace cables prevent liquid contents from turning solid and splitting pipes.

Examine weather stripping

The next seasonal plumbing service maintenance task involves checking all weather stripping around doors leading out to unconditioned spaces containing water lines. Your prime focus includes the attic hatch cover, basement door, and garage access door jamb seals. Any gaps or aging cracked seals should be replaced right away. Filling these holes denies outdoor cold air ingress that could drop interior temperatures below safe ranges. Missing weather stripping essentially works against your central heating system and pipe insulation by enabling heat loss. Investing a few dollars and minutes of your time in replacing worn seals pays off by keeping attic, basement, garage, and crawlspace temperatures warmer during winter.

Inspect sump pump 

An adequately functioning sump pump serves as your vital first line of defense in preventing wet basement flooding disasters during the rainy spring, stormy summer, and winter snowmelt seasons. Before and after these precipitation-prone times of the year, thoroughly inspect your existing groundwater ejection pump setup. That starts by checking whether the pump turns on and activates as intended when you pour a few buckets of water into the installed sump pit basin below the basement floor level. Next, examine the discharge pipe routing the expelled water away from your home’s foundation perimeter to ensure it remains clear of obstruction to the final above-grade outlet termination. An alarming number of homeowners discover redundant backup ‘secondary’ pumps or replaced primary units become necessary annually right after finding their basement underwater from a previously untested pump that failed to start.

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