Staying in your own home as you age has many incredible benefits. However, there are some home care responsibilities and upkeep duties that come with the territory. With all of the strange weather that we have seen in St. Louis this winter (from 70 degrees to a full blown snowstorm in a matter of 3 days), we wanted to provide some helpful plumbing tips to keep you, your home and your pipes safe this winter – so we reached out to a well-known plumbing company to put together this list of suggestions.
• If you find yourself with a frozen pipe when the temperature dips, try warming it up with a hair dryer. Once you take care of it and the water is flowing again, you want to prevent it from freezing yet again. Open up the vanity cabinet doors to keep warm air circulating near the pipes. You can also wrap a towel around the pipes, if they are accessible, for additional insulation. Finally, turn the water on ever so slight, to create a constant drip, allowing water to continuously move through the line. If you are unable to warm up the pipes, just leave them alone and don’t ever use a space heater to warm them up. Once the pipe has defrosted, inspect it for a leak which would indicate a split water line. If you notice this, call a qualified plumber to repair the split.
• Once the weather becomes spring-like, have your gutters cleaned out – this will help you be prepared for heavy rain. It will also help to avoid flooding at home if the gutters are clear of sticks, leaves and debris.
• Home care includes yard work! You need to regularly clean your yard sprinklers and any fountains outside. If you are planting new trees, make sure to stay clear of lateral sewage lines – tree roots can cause cracks in the pipes and can cause a leak or water backup.
• Pull out the tub drains and rid them of any blockage. Make sure you have a screen or some type of strainer over them to prevent hair or soap from building up.
• Remove all showerheads and soak them in white vinegar for 24 hours to help free them of mineral deposits. Use an old toothbrush to remove any excess particles.
• Run water into drains that you don’t use often (i.e. guest tub) to keep odors away.
• Always check your basement for any water damage after a heavy rainstorm and take preventative measures to keep your basement dry.
• Avoid putting coarse items down your garbage disposal – this includes banana peels, potato peels, corn husks, fats and cooking oils.
• When you have a plumber at your house, have him check all faucets for leaks or drips (to save water). If your toilets aren’t flushing properly, this is also something to bring to a plumber’s attention as you may be using and paying for extra water.
• Check the temperature setting on your water heater as it should not be higher than 120 degrees (to prevent burning as well as to reduce energy usage). Consider replacing your water heater if it’s more than 15 years old. (The first four numbers of the serial number represent the month and year it was made.) While there is a cost involved with this home care tip, newer water heaters are more efficient. They will likely lower your bill.