Whenever autumn arrives and the leaves start falling, it means the freezing winter weather isn’t that far away. Winter is the time when your plumbing system is at the most risk due to the possibility of issues like your pipes freezing. As such, it’s always a good idea to take certain steps each fall to prepare your home and plumbing system for winter, and here are the most important things you should always make sure you do.

1. Disconnect and Put Away Your Hoses

Whenever fall comes and you’re no longer watering your lawn and garden, you should always make sure to disconnect all of your hoses and then roll them up and store them in your garage or shed. Keeping a hose connected greatly increases the risk of the hose bib or the water line inside that feeds it freezing. Draining and rolling up your hoses can also help to prevent them from freezing and cracking.

2. Shut Off the Water to Your Hose Bibs and Drain Them

After disconnecting your hoses, you should then shut off the water to all hose bibs and make sure that they are fully drained. There should be a shut-off valve inside for each hose bib located near where the pipe sticks out through the wall. You’ll want to make sure all of the shut-off valves are fully closed and then go outside and open each hose bib so that any remaining water can drain out. Once no more water comes out, you should then close all of the bibs.

If you don’t do these important steps, there is a very high risk that the hose bib itself or the pipe inside will freeze and break. Most homes now have frost-proof hose bibs, which are great because they’re designed to not freeze and break. The only problem is that frost-proof bibs increase the chances of the pipe inside your home breaking if you don’t make sure to shut the water off and fully drain the bib.

3. Get Your Underground Sprinkler System Blown Out

If you have an underground sprinkler system, you also need to shut the water off to it and have all of the sprinkler lines blown out to ensure that the system doesn’t freeze or break. Blowing out a sprinkler system is generally not something you’ll be able to do on your own as it requires using an industrial air compressor.

4. Check for Plumbing Leaks

When performing your fall plumbing maintenance, it’s also always a good idea to check for any leaks under your sinks or anywhere else in your home. Your water meter can also help you to know if you leak. The easiest way is to check the meter reading before going to bed. As long as you didn’t flush the toilet or use any water overnight, the reading should be the same the next morning. If the reading is higher than it was the night before, you’ll want to have a plumber inspect your home since this indicates that there is a leak somewhere.

5. Make Sure Exposed Pipes Are Well Insulated

Both your attic and crawl space will always stay much colder than your living spaces during the winter. This is why all water lines in these areas should always be fully wrapped with insulation or heat tape to ensure they don’t freeze. It’s also a good idea to insulate the pipes in your basement that run along the walls of the foundation since they could also get cold enough that they may freeze.

6. Make Sure Your Sewage System Drains Properly

The last thing you want to happen in winter is for your home’s main sewer line to get clogged. Your sewer line is usually not at risk of freezing since it should be buried deep enough in the ground so it doesn’t get too cold. However, there are times when the sewer line could freeze during an extreme cold spell, and the risk is always greater if the pipe is partially clogged since this can trap water inside.

A completely clogged sewer line can also potentially break and force you to have the pipe repaired or replaced. The only issue is that the ground often becomes frozen solid during the winter and can potentially make it so that the sewer line can’t be dug up and replaced—in which case you’d need to wait for the ground to thaw enough that it can be dug before you can use your plumbing again.

7. Have Your Water Heater Inspected and Flushed

Water heaters typically have to work harder and run longer in the winter, and this is simply because the water coming into the building is much colder. This is why it’s always a good idea to have a plumber inspect your water heater each fall and also drain and flush the unit if you have a tank-type water heater. This can help to keep your energy bills from rising and also ensure that the unit functions effectively. Flushing is also important since it removes all of the sediment from the tank to prevent potential issues and ensure it heats effectively.

8. Clean and Test Your Sump Pump

Fall and winter in Indianapolis can be both quite rainy and snowy at different times, and all of this precipitation has the potential to cause the water table to rise high enough that your basement or crawl space starts to flood. The only effective way to prevent this from possibly happening is with a sump pump. If your home does have a sump pump, fall is a great time to inspect, clean, and test it to ensure it works properly.

Testing the pump can be done by simply using a hose or buckets and adding enough water to the sump basin so that the pump starts running. If the pump doesn’t turn on, pumps more slowly than normal, runs louder than normal, or makes any unusual sounds, you should contact a plumber to have it inspected and either repaired or replaced.

If the pump works as it should, you should then remove it from the basin and inspect for any visible rust or other damage. You’ll also want to clean the inlet screen on the bottom of the pump as it often gets clogged and can prevent the pump from working as it should.

9. Clean Out Gutters and Downspouts to Prevent Possible Damage and Flooding

This final tip technically has nothing to do with your plumbing system, but it is still a good idea to do it while performing all of your other maintenance tasks. Cleaning leaves out of your gutters and downspouts is key to preventing them from becoming clogged. If they do clog, it can result in lots of water pooling around your foundation instead of draining away from your house. When this happens, it increases the risk of your basement or crawl space starting to flood and can lead to your sump pump working much harder and possibly giving out right when you need it the most.

Hope Plumbing is your best choice for all of your plumbing needs in Indianapolis. We offer professional plumbing inspections and our licensed plumbers can handle all of your plumbing installation, repair, and maintenance needs. We also specialize in sump pump, sewer, drain, and gas line services. No matter what type of plumbing service you need, contact us today to get the prompt, professional help you need.


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