Cold weather can be punishing to pipes and water heaters and taking steps to protect them will save you time, hassle and discomfort. As the temperature drops, be aware of these four winter plumbing concerns and how you can avoid the problems they cause.
- They freeze inside your home. Exceptionally cold weather can make the water freeze inside the pipes in your walls or basement. Homes that lack insulation are most vulnerable, as are vacant homes whose heating systems have been turned off.
Many plumbers and insurance companies recommend leaving the heat set at 55 degrees F when leaving for a winter vacation. You can also leave the cabinet doors under sinks open to prevent the pipes from freezing. Letting the faucets drip will also reduce the risk of frozen pipes.
- They freeze outside your home. Even though they won’t cause the same amount of serious damage as a burst interior pipe will, they’re still serious winter plumbing concerns. Before subfreezing temperatures descend, remove the hose. Locate the shutoff valve to the outdoor spigot and turn it off. Turn on the spigot to drain any remaining water.
Water Heater Problems
- When the water heater has a buildup of dissolved solids on the bottom, it won’t heat as efficiently or quickly in the winter, especially if it uses gas. If you haven’t flushed a few quarts of water from the heater recently, you could be spending more than you should to heat it. Telltale signs include rumbling or gurgling sounds while it’s heating or it takes substantially longer to heat the water during periods of high demand.
- Water heater failure often occurs in the winter because it has to work harder to heat the colder incoming water. These appliances last between eight and 12 years. Heavy use and lack of maintenance will shorten it.
These winter plumbing concerns are largely avoidable through regular maintenance in the case of water heaters, and awareness of weather conditions for your pipes. To learn more, contact Roth Heating & Cooling, providing trusted services for Portland-area homeowners.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Metro Portland, Oregon area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).