The days are getting a lot colder, which means that you need to think about keeping your home warm and cosy, of course, but you should also be thinking about how to keep your home healthy and safe. When water starts getting into places where it shouldn’t, that can become difficult. Water damage, mould, and humidity in the air can all pose real health risks. As such, here we’re going to look at some of the issues you should be keeping an eye out for this winter, what you can do yourself, and when you should rely on a professional.
The big freeze
Perhaps the most widely known and dramatic of plumbing problems commonly seen in the winter is when the water that is in your pipes freezes. This often happens when the pipes are left inactive for a while. The remaining moisture freezes solid, causing the pipes to expand. As such, this leaves them more brittle and a lot more prone to bursting. Burst pipes are a major hazard and you are likely going to need to rely on water damage remediation simply to fix the expensive mess that can be left behind. However, the solution is simple. Prevention is usually down to nothing more than insulating the pipes throughout the home so that they retain heat better.
Deal with your hose
You might not think that something as innocuous as your outdoor hose is really going to cause that many problems, but you could be surprised. Alongside a lack of insulation, they are one of the leading causes of burst pipes in the winter. This is due to the fact that when a hose is connected to a spigot, the water tends to build up in the spigot which, in the winter, means even more pressure that can then lead to a leak or a burst pipe. If your hose isn’t winterised, then you should disconnect it from the spigot and put it away until you need it or the warmer weather comes back again.
Don’t let leaks linger
The winter changes how the various aspects of your plumbing system react throughout the different components. Water expands, while metal shrinks, which means that your plumbing is just generally going to be more prone to issues. Usually, the dimensions of things don’t change enough to do any real damage, but over time, the fillings around plumbing fixtures can crack and things like rubber washers can lose elasticity. This can cause taps and pipes to leak. Changing a tap and the washer inside is something you can usually DIY but, otherwise, if you see a leak, you should be willing to look for some help since you normally don’t want to go rooting around a system as complex as your plumbing by yourself.
Flooding your home
Sometimes, flooding is done accidentally, such as by leaving the bath on for too long, leading to an overflow. There are plenty of ways to prevent this, but the more common issue is that you have a blocked drain that means that you can’t effectively get rid of wastewater. These blockages put a lot more strain on the rest of your plumbing, meaning they can lead to much more expensive malfunctions. If a plunger alone isn’t enough to do it, then you should rely on a blocked drains specialist rather than trying to go into the pipes yourself. These specialists use cameras to identify the source of the blockage to ensure that it’s gotten rid of in a way that won’t damage the pipes.
Mind your gutter
You might not think of it when you think about your plumbing, due to the fact that it is entirely outdoors. However, the gutter is just as important when it comes to diverting unwanted water away from the home and it can be especially prone to problems in the autumn and the winter. The main problem is that all the debris from the changing seasons, from leaves to twigs to simple dirt, can get caught in the gutters. When that happens, there is a blockage that stops water from being directed down your downspouts. This water can overflow, either leaking into the home, seeping into the ground (where it can affect your foundation) or even forming icicles. As such, it’s important to get your gutters cleaned every winter.
Watch the water heater
Your boiler or furnace isn’t the only aspect of your heating system that you should keep an eye out on this winter. It’s best to take the time to inspect your water heater ahead of winter, to arrange for an annual service to make sure that there aren’t likely to be any issues as the season rolls on. However, all household appliances are most prone to malfunctions and breakdowns when they’re being pushed at their hardest. You’re a lot more likely to be using your water heater more often during the winter, so that’s also the time that it undergoes the most stress and you should watch it for any signs of malfunction so you can call for help ASAP.
Don’t forget the basement
If you have a sump pump in your basement, then you should be checking on it every now and then throughout the winter. This is especially true for the end of the winter. The ice that has built up around the home will start to melt, and this water will trickle down, making its way invariably down to that sump pump. If you haven’t been maintaining this pump well, then the deluge of water (in comparison to what it has to deal with for the rest of the year) can cause flooding. As such, you don’t need to do much more than ensure the annual maintenance that your sump pump demands to keep your basement safe and clear.
The pipes in your home are going to be put under more stress than usual this winter, and it’s up to you to make sure that you’re able to ease that stress. Hopefully, the tips above work.