Category: Water Damage Restoration

Family enjoying summer fun together with a sprinkler.

Summer Plumbing Preparation Tips

Warmer weather and longer days are finally upon us here in Minnesota. As we make the official transition to summer, it’s important to make sure our plumbing is as ready for the season as we are. Use these summer plumbing preparation tips to help protect your home from major problems down the road.

Summer Plumbing Preparation Checklist

  • Test outdoor faucets and hose bibs (spigots). If any of them drip or you notice leakage inside the home the first time the hose is turned on, there may be a pipe that froze in the winter, cracked when it thawed, and needs to be replaced.
  • Clear debris from yard drains and gutters/downspouts. Pine needles, leaves, and other debris can build up in these systems over the long Minnesota winters. Be sure rain and wastewater can flow freely away from the house to prevent leaks and backups that can cause water damage.
  • Remove obstructions from sprinkler system. Clogged sprinkler heads can lead to increased water pressure and potentially burst the system’s water main. Clear any blockages now, and remember to check for dirt, grass clippings, and other obstructions throughout the season.
  • Make sure your sump pump is clean and working properly. Dump a bucket of water into the sump pit to see that it activates, safely removes the water, and shuts off without issue. Make sure the line is clear of debris and consult the owner’s manual for cleaning. Contact your local plumber if you detect any issues to prevent potential flooding.
  • Check toilets for damage and operation issues. Thoroughly inspect the bowl and tank for cracks/leaks that need to be fixed. Make sure toilets flush properly – if the handle needs to be held down for a thorough flush or frequently runs after flushing, you may need to replace worn tank parts. Make these inexpensive fixes now to prevent costly repairs or replacements later on.
  • Inspect faucets for drips or leaks. They may seem small, but the extra (and unnecessary) water use will add onto your bill. Identifying these simple repairs early on can also help prevent more expensive issues in the future.
  • Check exposed and exterior water pipes. Piping located in basements, below sinks, outdoors, and in your exterior walls are more susceptible to freezing in the winter. Make sure they’re free of cracks and leaks.
  • Test your home’s water pressure. Make note of the water pressure when you take showers or use a sink. If it’s low, there could be a leak somewhere in your system that should be addressed by a plumbing professional.
  • Schedule professional drain testing/cleaning. Clogged drains can lead to backups and other major issues, so plan ahead. We recommend homeowners have their drains tested and cleaned every two years, or sooner should they notice a problem.
  • Pour a gallon of water into infrequently used drains (including floor). This will fill the trap and prevent odors from entering the home, and also let you see if the drains are slow and need to be snaked or cleaned to ensure proper draining in the event of a flood.
  • Check your water heater. Make sure the temperature is no higher than 120 degrees to reduce energy use and prevent scalding water. Drain several gallons of water to flush harmful, corrosive sediment from the unit. If you notice any signs of corrosion or leaks (i.e. puddles on the floor, rust or soot by the control panel) and/or your unit is 15 years or older, consider replacing your water heater.
  • Turn the main water valve off and on. Left untouched, the valve can become difficult to turn over time. Simply close and reopen the valve to prevent its parts from sticking in place in case you ever need to shut off the supply.

While it’s impossible to guarantee you will never face plumbing issues as a homeowner, being vigilant and understanding what to look for can greatly reduce the risks. Use these summer plumbing preparation tips to help keep your home safe while you and your family enjoy the season. From inspections and installations to emergency repairs and replacements, you can rely on the master plumbers at Robillard Plumbing for all your plumbing service and product needs. Contact us to learn more.

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Preventing Frozen Pipes During Winter

Preventing Frozen Pipes During Winter

Here in Minnesota, we’re no strangers to extremely cold weather. Unfortunately, that means an even higher risk to perhaps the most common winter plumbing issue: frozen pipes. As a homeowner, it’s important to take the proper steps to protect your household and family. To help, we put together these tips for preventing frozen pipes during winter.

Locations at Risk for Frozen Pipes

Before learning how to protect pipes from freezing, it’s important to understand what areas around the home are at risk.

Exterior Walls

Pipes running along your home’s exterior walls have the bitter outdoor cold on one side. With little to no insulation for protection, they’re at risk for freezing.

Unheated Interior Areas

Beware of piping in unheated areas around your home when the temps drop: attics, crawl spaces, garages, and kitchen cabinets.

Exposed Outdoor Pipes

Any outdoor pipes that are directly exposed to the cold are obviously at risk for freezing. These include outdoor hose bibs (spigots), sprinkler lines, and swimming pool supply lines. All exterior pipes should be drained and shut off before the winter season, with all hoses removed from the faucets.

Tips For Preventing Frozen Pipes

So, what can you do? There are steps to take before winter hits, but since it’s already January, we’ll focus on what should be done now to protect your home and its piping.

Keep Garage Doors Closed

If there are water supply lines in your garage, keep the doors closed to keep the cold out and trap in as much heat as possible.             

Open Cabinets and Closets

Closed doors prevent heat transfer. Open closet doors and cabinets in your kitchen and bathroom so warm air can reach and circulate around the plumbing.

Let Faucets Drip/Trickle

During extreme cold, leave faucets slightly open overnight. Keeping the water running, even at a light drip or trickle, will help prevent freezing.

Keep the Thermostat Up

Many homeowners lower the thermostat at night or when they’re away to save on energy costs. If you do, remember that the lower the temperature, the higher the risk of frozen pipes. Keeping the thermostat up consistently may increase the heating bill a bit but repairing a burst pipe and the damage it causes is significantly more expensive.

Generally, it’s recommended to go no lower than 55 degrees (or closer to 60 during severely low temps), especially if you’re leaving home for multiple days.

Pay Attention to Wind

January and February tend to be the coldest months, and windy conditions increase the risk of frozen pipes even more. Wind can penetrate cracks and seams in your home’s exterior, exposing pipes deeper inside your home to cold air. Pay attention to the direction of the wind and the pipes on that side of the house.

Protect Your Sump Pump

Sump pumps are generally located in or near the basement – which are colder areas of the home – and become susceptible to freezing in winter. Reduce the sump’s workload by redirecting water away from the basement. Consult your local plumber for help insulating your pump’s area and components for added protection.

The new year is upon us, but we know that there are still plenty of cold days yet to come here in Minnesota. The first couple of months also tend to be the coldest, so be sure to follow these tips for preventing frozen pipes during winter to keep your home safe. In the unfortunate event of a burst pipe, contact a plumbing professional immediately. The master plumbers at Robillard are experts when it comes to frozen/burst pipes and water damage restoration, and are always here to help. Contact us for all your plumbing needs.

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