Florida is no stranger to cold weather. Every year, as the winter season approaches, thousands of worried residents and business owners crowd the phone lines of their local plumbing repair companies to prepare their heating systems and prevent any last-minute plumbing emergencies. Besides scheduling Ocala plumbing services, however, there are several precautions property owners can take to further prevent plumbing and heater issues. Follow this simple guide by Sunshine Plumbing and Gas to learn more and contact us to schedule a free plumbing repair estimate.
1. Drain Pipes
While frozen pipes typically do not result in a water leak right away, any accumulated frozen water inside eventually will thaw and cause surprise water leaks long after winter is over. To prevent any water from freezing in the first place, shut off any water lines leading outside the property, and drain any remaining water in the pipes by turning on a garden hose until water stops pouring out completely.
2. Check For Pipe Leaks
Plumbing leaks can be more problematic during the winter. A small leak in an over-the-ground pipe could not only freeze any residual water inside the pipe but also inside any connected pipework. If made out of plastic or copper, the pipe is also likely to split or break from the ice. To prevent any damage, check for leaks in all exposed piping and schedule repairs sooner rather than later.
4. Cover Outdoor Spigots & Sprinklers
Don’t forget to check for and repair leaks in outdoor faucets. Cold air and frost can also enter piping through water fixtures like spigots and lawn irrigation sprinklers. Our Ocala plumbers with Sunshine Plumbing and Gas recommend you cover all outdoor water fixtures with an insulating material such as heat tape and store all garden hoses inside to further prevent any pipes from freezing.
6. Insulate Pipes
Once drained, cover any exposed pipes with insulating materials as well to prevent them from freezing and cracking. Our Ocala plumbers recommend fiberglass and polyethylene insulating tubes as effective, budget-friendly choices. For extra protection, add a layer of heat-tape between the insulating tube and pipe.
3. Keep Heater Vents Clear
Keep the area around all baseboards and portable heaters clear. Any flammable materials such as clothing and blankets should be at least three feet away from all heaters. Inspect heater vents before winter for any obstructions and dust buildup and replace any furnace filters with high-efficiency models to improve air circulation and heating efficiency.
5. Avoid Setting The Thermostat Too Low
Decreasing the thermostat setting or shutting the heater off completely might be a good way to lower monthly heating costs, especially when on vacation, but doing so could also leave the inside plumbing vulnerable to the cold. As a general rule of thumb, the indoor temperature should be no lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Keep Water Flowing
In the unlikely case that the outside temperature drops below freezing, turn a few faucets on inside the property and allow them to drip overnight. Circulating water this way can help reduce the pressure building inside pipes as a result of frozen water, stopping the pipe from bursting in the middle of the night.
8. Improve Warm Air Circulation
On the coldest nights, open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warm air inside. Ventilating areas where pipes are usually hidden can further help prevent issues with frozen plumbing and leaky faucets. Switch all ceiling fans to spin clockwise and set them at the lowest setting. Circulating warm air will not only protect plumbing but also improve the heater’s efficiency, resulting in lower utility costs.