Category: Winter Plumbing

Preparing Your Outdoor Faucets for Winter

Falling leaves and dropping temperatures mean winter is on the horizon. But before the first freeze, it’s important to prepare your home for winter. Ask yourself this ─ Is my outdoor winter checklist complete? If you don’t plan on preparing your outdoor faucets for winter, the answer is no. Continue reading our blog to winterize your faucets properly.

Why Is It Important?

Outdoor faucets are not designed to handle the freezing weather through the winter months. If you leave your hose on the spigot, water can become trapped inside the faucet and damage the pipes. The trapped water will expand as it freezes and causes the faucet to split. Once a faucet breaks and is turned on in the spring, it can cause flooding inside your home. Avoid costly and permanent damage by following these steps:

How To Winterize Your Faucet

  • Close the shutoff valve: Many shut-off valves are located inside your home. Turning the valve off before winter will avoid accidental freezes that could break the valve. If your valve is broken, it will be impossible to stop the flow of water to the faucet.
  • Disconnect all hoses: Removing hoses is just as important as any other step. If you don’t remove them, the hose bib can trap water and cause the fixture to freeze up. One night of freezing weather can cause a crack in the pipes and create expensive problems.
  • Check for leaks: As you walk around your yard, check your hose bibs and yard hydrants for leaks that need repair. Dripping water can freeze and damage them as the water expands.
  • Insulate your pipes: Install hose bib covers on each outdoor fixture to protect them from freezing temperatures. These covers are made from a foam-like material to insulate the valve. If you’re looking for extra insulation, purchase non-drainable hose bibs and install them inside the cover. This is just an extra precautionary step, and in most cases, the hose bib cover will provide enough insulation to prevent freezing.

Winterizing your outdoor faucets can be accomplished without the help of a professional, but should you have questions, our team is happy to answer them. Robillard Plumbing offers a range of services and products for all your plumbing needs. Contact Robillard Plumbing today.

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Homeowner attempting to clear a clogged kitchen drain.

Winter Plumbing Maintenance Reminders

Winter is extra tough on our home’s plumbing system, and we’re currently in the middle of the season’s coldest months. Follow these winter plumbing maintenance reminders to help avoid major issues and costly repairs.

Protect Your Pipes from Freezing

Frozen pipes are probably the most common winter plumbing problem, especially here in Minnesota. When the temps drop way down and harsh winds blow, the plumbing in exterior walls is at an even higher risk. Follow these guidelines to help prevent frozen pipes:

  • Keep the furnace running. If you want to lower the thermostat at night or when you’re away, it’s recommended to go no lower than 55 degrees (closer to 60 if extreme cold and high winds are expected).
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet and closet doors. This allows warm air to reach and circulate around the plumbing.
  • Leave faucets dripping/trickling overnight. On extremely cold nights, allowing the water to run, even minimally, helps prevent them from freezing.

Be sure you know where your home’s main water valve is located for quick, easy access should a pipe freeze or burst. In that case, close the valve and call your local plumber.

Keep Your Drain Lines Clear

Food particles, soap scum, hair, and other debris naturally collect in pipes over time and cause clogs. They’re more susceptible in winter, however, as the cold, harsh weather can stiffen and solidify these blockages more rapidly. Professional drain cleaning service is recommended every two years, and you can help keep your drains clear with these tips:

  • Use strainers to catch common blockages. Debris can’t collect and clog your drain if it doesn’t get in to begin with! Cover sink and tub drains (especially in the bathroom and kitchen where they’re used most often) with strainers to collect large particles and then toss them in the trash.
  • Never dump fats, oils, or grease down the drain. These are common clog culprits because they cool as they move through the pipes, coating the interior walls, solidifying, and building over time. These items should be disposed of in the trash – if they’re hot from cooking, collect them in an empty jar or coffee can to cool first.
  • Don’t dump coffee grounds down the drain or garbage disposal. Since coffee grounds don’t break down in water, they don’t grind up and wash away like other food particles. Instead, they clump together and form a clog over time. Throw old coffee grounds in the trash rather than down the drain.
  • Pour hot or boiling water down drains, especially in the kitchen. Not only will this heat up the cold pipes and help loosen any gunk buildup, hot water also makes the natural oils of food products move faster and more easily through the drain. However, use cold water while running the disposal to prevent those oils from liquefying and adhering to the blades.
  • Use baking soda and vinegar for a homemade drain cleaner. Store-bought drain cleaners may help clear clogs, but they can also eat away at the pipes themselves. Instead, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar, and then let it sit for at least 30 minutes before rinsing with a pot of boiling water. Vinegar’s acetic content makes it an organic solvent that will naturally break down buildups in the pipes, and the baking soda absorbs odors to help keep the sink smelling fresh.

Remember that garbage disposals are designed for grinding and draining scraps of food, so large pieces should be scraped into the trash. Try to get dishes as clean as possible before washing to limit the amount of debris getting into your drain. If you experience clogs, backups, or other drainage issues, contact your local drain cleaning pros at Robillard.

We’ve made it through the holidays and into 2021, but there are still plenty of cold days ahead of us here in Minnesota. Use these winter plumbing maintenance reminders to help prevent inconvenient issues and expensive repairs or replacements.

For all your plumbing service and product needs, trust the experienced master plumbers at Robillard. Contact us today to learn more.

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