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Five Pro Tips to Prepare Your Plumbing for Winter

Although Austin doesn't see as many freezing temperatures as other parts of the country, the cold weather can wreak havoc on your plumbing system.

The winter season doesn't only require wearing warmer clothes and a coat. The cold weather can wreak havoc on your plumbing system. Although Austin doesn't see as many freezing temperatures as other parts of the country, pipes can burst or malfunction if the temperature drops low enough.

Protecting your pipes is crucial during the winter months. Taking the necessary precautions can prevent you from spending time and money on pipe replacement or repair.

Below are five tips from the professionals at Indigo Home & Facility Services to prepare your plumbing system for winter.

Insulate Exterior Pipes

One of the first things you should do while preparing for the winter season is to insulate your exterior pipes. Insulation can protect them from bursting when the water inside freezes and expands. You should also insulate exposed pipes in your attic or crawl space.

Pay special attention to pipes you had trouble with in the past. Maybe they freeze every winter or cause more problems than others. You can wrap those pipes in heat tape before applying insulation for extra protection.

Test Valves for Toilets and Sinks

You should check the condition of all valves for your sinks and toilets. Test whether shutting off the water is easy. Sometimes, the valves get stuck, making it harder to turn the water off in emergencies. If the valve is missing or breaks, shutting off the water isn't possible.

People often store items under their sinks. Accessing the valve requires taking everything out of the cabinet first. However, you won't have much time to switch off the valve if water starts gushing out of the pipe. You should clear space to avoid delays in turning off the water when necessary.

Flush Your Water Heater

You should check whether you flushed your water heater recently. Hard water causes a build-up of sediment in water heaters. Eventually, the sediment turns to rust. If you have to shut down your water heater, the sediment can cause the system to malfunction when you turn it on again.

You must drain your water heater to remove the sediment before winter starts. Otherwise, the system won't be reliable and can cause serious problems.

Locate Your Shut Off Valve

The city has a water shut-off that licensed plumbers and homeowners cannot touch. However, city code requires homeowners to have access to a valve. You should check if you have one and ensure it's easy to get to if you must turn off your water.

You can avoid your pipes freezing over by keeping water out of them. Turning off your outdoor lines with your shut-off valve can protect them from freezing. Once you switch off the valve, open the bleed cap in your faucet to drain any remaining water.

You should turn off every faucet in your home if you plan on traveling this winter. If you'll be home and need water, turning off the faucets during cold temperatures is beneficial.

Consider Your Water Heater Options

A storage tank water heater has approximately 30 to 60-gallon capacity. It continuously heats the water using electricity, propane, natural gas, or fuel oil and stores it until you need it.

tankless water heater is a heater without a tank. It heats water while it passes through the unit, increasing the temperature rapidly with a heat exchanger. It doesn't store water in a tank until you're ready to use it. It only heats it when you need it.

The water heater you install in your home will depend on your needs, budget, and other factors, such as:

  • Performance – You shouldn't run out of hot water if you use a tank water heater with the appropriate capacity. However, a tankless water heater can struggle to keep up with demand if you often run your washing machine, dishwasher, and other appliances simultaneously. You might need to install multiple tankless water heaters throughout your home to keep up with the demand.
  • Location – Storage tank water heaters take up significant space. They can stand as tall as five feet and have a width of two feet or more. Keeping the water heater in the basement is the most practical. However, if you don't have a basement, you'll need to store it in a utility closet or other area, losing valuable square footage in your home. A tankless water heater takes up minimal space, so you can install it anywhere.
  • Energy efficiency – Tankless water heaters are more efficient than heaters with storage tanks. However, they can cost much more to purchase and install. Since conventional water heaters constantly store hot water, they have a higher standby heat loss than tankless systems.
  • Water saving abilities – Water heaters with a storage tank always have hot water ready to use, even if you don't need it. You also pay more for water regardless of whether you use it. A tankless water heater saves you money and avoids standby heat loss.

Get Your Plumbing Winter-Ready Now

Winterizing your plumbing system isn't difficult. However, it requires your time and attention. Taking the necessary steps to safeguard your pipes can reduce or eliminate the cost of future repairs.

Indigo Home & Facility Services is a family-owned and operated plumbing business in Austin, TX. We have a team of licensed, experienced plumbers ready to provide efficient and cost-effective plumbing services when you need us.

Call us at (512) 608-4999 for an appointment today.