Winter is at its peak in the month of January, when everyone wants to stay indoors and curl up under the blanket. This is also a time when your plumbing system has to work harder to deliver hot water and heat as and when required. The last thing you want on the coldest day of the month is a plumbing breakdown, especially the central heating unit or the boiler. Moreover, a small crack in water pipes running behind the walls and floors might send you in a state of panic the moment you notice damp spreading across the surface. The repair can be really expensive because it involves digging into the surface to gain access to the broken pipe and then putting everything back on again.
Therefore, here we bring to you some helpful, preventive measures to winter-proof your home and protect you and your family from the ordeal of plumbing break down.
Never neglect any leaky pipes
While the signs are glaringly obvious, a leaky pipe is a ticking bomb waiting to burst in winters. If you notice any leakage anywhere in your home, have it fixed to avoid making the situation worse for you and the people around you.
Wrap those exposed pipes
Winters in the UK are unpredictable. One day you are enjoying the sunshine in the garden, the next day it rains and the temperature drops below five. Therefore, before you experience the first freeze of the year, wrap those exposed pipes to keep water in it from freezing. Frozen water generally leads to cracks in the pipe and lowers the pressure in faucets. Wrapping exposed pipes using fiberglass pipe insulation will prevent freezing, thus saving you a lot of trouble. You can either call in a plumbing expert or cram this task in your DIY to-do list.
Cut off your garden for a while
While you may love to water your garden every day, it’s time to coil up the hoses. Why? When the water left in the hose freezes, the ice can easily back up into the faucet inside your house, which is the beginning of a plumbing disaster. Once you disconnect the hoses, drain them completely before stashing them away.
Seal the cracks and holes
Locate the points where any pipe or cable passes through the wall. If there’s a crack or hole big enough to let cold air in, seal it using expandable foam. However, if your plumbing installation is done professionally and neatly, you will not have to face this situation, as there will be no loose ends left for you to fix.
Protect your modern boiler
Most homeowners think that investing in a modern condensing boiler has saved them from a lot of trouble, which is true except for the fact that UK’s harsh winter spares none. Traditional boilers would grind to a halt and won’t come on until fixed. The modern condensing boiler helped but only up until the water inside the waste pipe freezes. The waste pipe usually runs down an external wall, exposing it to extremely cold temperatures, especially at night. The best way around this problem is to replace the waste pipe with a larger diameter equivalent or route it inside the house.
Insulate the garage
If you have water pipes passing through your garage, you will need to protect them as well. One of the easiest ways to do that is to insulate the garage door to keep the cold outside. If your garage has a couple of windows, consider installing argon-filled double-glazed glass panes to ensure maximum insulation. If you feel that’s not enough to keep your garage warm, use a portable heater whenever needed.
Keep your kitchen and bathroom warm
While most of us care to keep our living room and bedroom warm, kitchen and bathrooms are the most neglected spaces and vulnerable as well. Your central heating unit might be keeping your kitchen warm but what about the water pipes running behind closed cabinets? Consider keeping the kitchen cabinets open during a cold snap to let the warmth in.
Leave one of the faucets running in case the temperature drops to a record low
A dripping faucet releases the pressure that might build up inside the pipe during a cold snap. Keep it on a slow trickle so that you don’t bump up your water bills. Even if you have to pay a little extra on top of your water bill, it’s a nominal price to pay as compared to fixing cracks in the pipe.
Shut off the valve
It is advised to shut off your main valve when no one’s home for more than a couple of days and the system is not in use. In case the pipes crack with the valve shut off, the damage will be far less than otherwise.
Have your water heater serviced
Winters have already arrived, and if you are yet to have your water heater serviced, you might want to get it done right after you finish reading this blog. A water heater is one of the appliances that should be serviced before you start to draw plenty of hot water. If you can do it on your own, the first step is to flush the water heater followed by removing mineral deposits from internal parts, which may be accessible. However, users without proper knowledge of the appliance should consider hiring a professional plumber for the job.
Winterise your swimming pool
Now, this is something outside your plumbing system, but as long as water and pipes are involved, we are up for giving advice. If you have a private swimming pool, you will want to winterize it before you lock yourself indoors for the winter break. Keep water out and away from your pool for at least December and January. Drain the pump and empty chemical feeder. Stash pool accessories away in the garage for later use and cover the pool to keep debris and dust out.
Once you have done all of this, you can sit back and relax by the fireplace or enjoy a vacation without having to worry about things back at home.