Indoor plumbing is one of the greatest achievements of modern civilization. Something we take for granted today was only a generation or two ago very different. Instead of hauling water from a well or a river, we have the luxury of turning a tap and getting cold, clean water for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. Our wastewater goes out in much the same way, where it is taken away from our homes and treated at a wastewater treatment facility. Out of sight and out of mind. Plumbing is one of the most important systems of our homes, and usually is something that doesn’t come to mind until something goes wrong and suddenly, we find ourselves living in the early part of the last century again until it gets fixed.

Regular maintenance and winterization

Like any other important system, plumbing requires maintenance. Just as you would take your car in to the mechanic for regular oil changes, tire rotations, or radiator flushes to keep your car running smoothly, your home plumbing also needs some attention. Just like your car, it is especially important to catch any problems before the winter months. Winter has a nasty habit of creeping up on us sometimes, and with plumbing, the first cold snap of the year can spell disaster and be very difficult to fix.

A big reason why it is important to winterize your plumbing is due to the molecular structure of water. Water is one of the rare chemical compounds that expands when going from a liquid to a gas state as well as going from a liquid to a solid state. The composition of the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in water make water form a crystalline structure, which can cause incredible amounts of pressure. The laws of hydrodynamics that work with water and plumbing are the same that allow you to lift a car with a bottle jack, or let a forklift carry a heavy pallet of freight through a warehouse. Inside of a pipe, water needs a place to go, or it will find a weak point and make its own path. This is the same way we get chasms carved out of mountainsides by glaciers and cracks in our concrete. It’s called frost action, and it will ruin your day if it happens to your home.

Problem areas

Not all plumbing problems are related to frost action but can be a matter of the hydraulic pressure involved in blocked pipes and other water transport systems. Here are some areas that need regular maintenance and cleaning to keep your plumbing working well.

  • Drains and gutters: In the Fall months, those beautiful leaves that cover your yard and paint the landscape are also winding up in your gutters. Blocked gutters can cause leaks that can run back into the eaves of your home and cause mold, rot, and permanent damage. Keeping your gutters and drains clear lets the water drain properly and saves you a mess and an expensive rebuild later.
  • Sewer line maintenance: Your wastewater all drains out through the same large pipe to the municipal sewer or a septic system. During the year, thirsty trees search out water from any source (trees aren’t at all picky it’s a sewer line), and by the time winter comes, the trees must double down to survive the oncoming snows. These roots snarl up and clog sewer lines, blocking them if not completely breaking them. Regular maintenance of your sewer lines is a good way to make sure you don’t experience a nasty sewer backup.
  • Perimeter drains: One of the most important systems to maintain is your perimeter system, or weeping tile around the exterior of your home. If there’s a blockage anywhere in the system, it can lead to a flooded basement. HomeWise Plumbing recommends that you call us for an annual checkup.
  • Pipes: A cold snap can quickly freeze exterior pipes and uninsulated water lines. Not only will this stop the flow of fresh water on demand, but the pressure also created by the ice can split copper, steel, and PVC pipe, leaving you with a lot of damage. In worst-case scenarios, frozen pipes will have to be thawed by applying heat.
  • Hose-bibs: It’s important to know that when a gardening hose is left attached to an exterior hose-bib, the water is trapped inside the hose and bib. This is a common cause of split pipes within house walls.
  • Water heater: Hot running water is a wonderful part of modern living, but did you know that sediment buildup due to calcium and hard water deposits can eventually ruin your water heater? Not only is replacement expensive, but these buildups can override the safety features of your water tank that relieve pressure. The added pressure could cause your water heater to break or even explode. At the very least, increased load on your water heater due to cooler temps of incoming water means higher fuel usage and a higher energy bill. Flushing the system regularly prolongs the life of your water heater and saves money.
  • Sprinkler systems: These lines are more vulnerable to sudden cold snaps  than the lines inside your home. Throughout the year, your sprinkler system might have suffered some damage, whether it is from a sprinkler head being hit by a lawnmower blade to too much weight from that tree-trimming truck which could have broken some lines. Damaged sprinkler lines also allow tree roots to enter and create more damage. Prior to the first freeze of the year, your sprinkler system needs to be blown out with compressed air and properly disconnected and drained. Seasonal maintenance like this can help find problem areas that need to be repaired and prolong the life of a very expensive network of plumbing in your yard.

Contact HomeWise Plumbing

Though HomeWise Plumbing and Drainage can get the job done when things go wrong, we also specialize in regular, seasonal maintenance to keep your plumbing working optimally. Maintenance visits are generally quick and much less expensive than emergency calls or total rebuilds when disaster strikes. You can count on quality customer service, helpful tips, and advice, as well as the dependability of a licensed professional. Hiring a pro frees up your time and gives you the peace of mind that your home is in good hands. Contact us to schedule an appointment to winterize your home plumbing today.