Warmer weather may be just around the corner, but it is never too soon to think about indoor plumbing maintenance chores to avoid the need for emergency plumbing services later in the year — especially in the cold of winter. Indoor plumbing issues can crop up at any time, but the key is staying on top of simple tasks that will pay dividends down the road.
- Check drains once a month. We often get calls from customers who believe they need emergency plumbing services because of a clogged drain, and while we would be happy to clean them, this is something you can do on your own. Take a combination of equal parts salt and baking soda — one cup each should do — and combine them with a quarter cup of cream of tartar. Pour the mixture down the drain, followed by two cups of boiling water. This is environmentally friendly, and less expensive than a store bought solution. Repeat the process for each clogged drain.
- Add pipe insulation. Foam padding or insulated tape is a great way to keep hot and cold water pipes from freezing in the winter, and also protects condensation from building up during warmer months and dripping onto areas that should remain dry — like ceiling rafters filled with electrical wires, phone or cable lines, or heating and cooling duct work.
- Each spring, we receive frantic calls from homeowners who went away for the winter and really do need emergency plumbing services. Why? Because they forgot to shut off outdoor water supplies that originate inside their home, and the water remained in the outdoor spigot and pipes, froze, expanded — and burst the pipes. If you are going away for any length of time, shut off all outdoor water and make sure spigots and hoses are drained.
- Do not forget about your hot water heater. Many homeowners falsely assume that because a hot water heater generates hot water, it will operate at maximum efficiency in the spring if left unattended the previous winter. That is not always the case. To ensure your hot water heater runs like a charm, wrap it in a tank blanket, which also helps it keep water hotter for longer.
- If your home is going to be left unattended for the winter with the thermostat set to a lower temperature than normal, talk to someone — a family member, neighbor, or friend — about the possibility of stopping by a few times a month to run water and flush toilets. This will help keep the water circulating, making it less likely you will need emergency plumbing services because there will be less of a chance your pipes will freeze.