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Your home is your biggest investment and regular maintenance is important to keep it in tip top shape and to lessen the chance of big problems with big costs.
A good way to keep on top of your maintenance is to divide it up by season. This keeps the job of protecting your house from getting overwhelming and you can tackle tasks specific to the season.
To help you out this winter, we’ve put together a plumbing maintenance checklist. The main goals of winter maintenance are to make sure nothing freezes and all equipment is in good working order.
Keep in mind if your pipes freeze or a piece of equipment stops working it is at the very least a hassle and at its most can cause significant damage and be expensive.
Turn off outside taps and disconnect and drain hoses. Make sure taps are completely turned off. If not, you could end up with cracked hose bibs (fancy plumbing term for outside taps) and as the weather fluctuates between freeze and thaw, you could end up with a flooded basement. For added protection you can always turn off the water to your outdoor valves. Also drain any hoses and store them in a dry place.
Don’t forget to turn off and drain sprinklers. And prepare your pool, hot tubs and other outdoor water features for winter. In fact, your aim is to get rid of any outdoor residual water. You don’t want it freezing and causing problems. If your outdoor equipment has plumbing separate from your house, you might have to locate the water pump to turn off the water.
Wrap water lines (pipes) along exterior walls and outside water taps with insulation and heat tape them to stop them from freezing. Don’t forget the lines in unheated areas of your home, like in your garage and crawl space.
Also check your water pipes for leaks. Visually inspect by looking for drips, dampness and/or corrosion. All can indicate leaks. Don’t forget your faucets and showerheads. Pay attention to the water pressure. Any fluctuation in pressure can mean a leak which could lead to freezing pipes. If you notice or suspect any leaks, fix them or get a professional in to take a look.
Clean your gutters. I know, gutters don’t usually come to mind when you think plumbing. But, you want to make sure that water can drain properly (and not into your house) during the freeze and thaw cycle we have during our winters.
Have your hot water heater and sump pump inspected and maintained. Winter is not the time to have plumbing surprises. Having your hot water go out is never a pleasant experience, even more so during a Red Deer cold snap. And you want to make sure your sump pump is working when the snow melts during a Chinook or spring thaw.
Speaking of your hot water tank, you should drain a dishpan full of water from the clean-out valve at the bottom of your hot water tank. This will control sediment and keep your tank efficient. Please refer to your hot water tank’s user manual before doing this. Also think about an insulating blanket for your hot water tank. It can help lower your monthly utility bill.
Bonus Tip – If you go away, even for a few days, you should turn your water off. Find your main water line shut off valve and turn it off. Then run all your taps until there’s no water left. Also, make sure your furnace is on while you are away. These steps will help ensure that your pipes don’t freeze while you are away, saving you a major headache.
Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And this is especially true when it comes to your house. Taking the time to perform these maintenance tasks can save you from having nasty expensive surprises in the future.