As the colder months approach, homeowners in Northern Florida must consider several important steps to protect their plumbing systems. Here’s an informational guide from Prime Plumbing Services to help you prepare:
Insulate Exposed Pipes: The winter temperatures in Northern Florida can occasionally drop below freezing, posing a risk to uninsulated pipes which can freeze and burst. Insulate exposed pipes in areas like attics, crawl spaces, garages, and exterior walls using foam pipe insulation sleeves or wraps available at local hardware stores. Also, seal any gaps or cracks in walls or floors where cold air might enter.
Disconnect and Drain Outdoor Hoses: Outdoor hoses can retain water which can freeze and expand, causing damage to hoses and faucets, and potentially leading to burst pipes. Disconnect these hoses, drain any residual water, and store them in a dry place. Shut off and drain outdoor water supply lines to prevent freezing.
Keep Faucets Dripping: Allowing faucets to drip slowly during freezing temperatures can prevent pipes from freezing. This is because moving water is less likely to freeze. Pay special attention to faucets on exterior walls and in unheated areas like basements and crawl spaces.
Seal Air Leaks: Cold air entering through leaks around windows, doors, and other openings can cause pipes to freeze. Inspect your home for air leaks and seal them using weatherstripping or caulking, particularly around windows, doors, vents, and areas where plumbing and electrical lines enter the home.
Keep the Heat On: Even if you plan to be away, maintain a minimum indoor temperature above freezing, preferably not below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, to prevent pipes from freezing.
Fix Leaks Immediately: Address any dripping faucets or leaks in your kitchen, bathrooms, and utility rooms. Unresolved leaks can lead to bigger problems in cold weather.
Prepare Outdoor Faucets: Remove splitters from outdoor faucets, shut off water to outdoor faucets completely from indoor valves, and drain them. Insulate outdoor faucets or install freeze-proof faucets.
Check and Clean Your Sump Pump: Inspect and clean your sump pump and its pit to ensure it functions properly during colder weather. A malfunctioning sump pump can cause flooding, especially during rainy periods.
Flush Your Water Heater: The buildup of hard minerals from water can cause rust in your pipes. Flush your water heater before winter following the manufacturer’s instructions, or consider installing a new one if your current heater is old or rusted.
Know Your Main Water Shut-Off Valve: In case of a plumbing emergency, such as a burst pipe, knowing the location of your main water shut-off valve is crucial for quickly minimizing damage.
Taking these steps will help ensure your plumbing system remains functional and safe during the colder months in Northern Florida. Remember, regular maintenance and early preparation can prevent costly and inconvenient plumbing emergencies.