It’s never too early
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, 45% of Americans take some kind of summer vacation. In total, there are 657,000,000 long distance trips made during that time. If you were lucky enough to be among that number, you’ve probably since returned. And even though there are still a few good weeks of summer weather ahead, it’s nearly time to be ready for the lower temperatures of the fall and winter. Here are some tips to prepare for colder months.
Insulate your piping
Even in Savannah, the temperature can go below freezing. And while you’d love for your plumbing to remain equally effective all year round, it’ll take a bit of observation and upkeep if you want to get the most out of your water fixtures. The first order of business is to ensure all your pipes are adequately insulated. Insulation will prevent excess heat from escaping the system and reduce the overall stress on the plumbing.
Keep a faucet on drip
If you think it’s about to get especially icy, you should keep a faucet running a tiny bit in order to keep the flow circulating. This is unlikely to be an issue for some time, but it is far better to know in advance than be unsure when the time inevitably arrives. The chances are fairly high that a given pipe will rupture unnoticed for a while if you are not attentive. If you go on vacation over the winter instead of the summer, keep your home at least 45º F.
Remove leaves from gutters and drains
If you end up in a pinch and need some measure of insulation in the middle of a frosty evening, use duct tape. As for earlier in the fall, begin by removing any clutter from gutters and drains. While you may think you’ve gotten all the leaves, be aware that some may not fall until later. Use a hose to rinse them of any additional leaves or muck. It’ll be a lot more difficult to remove them once they are frozen in.
Disconnect your sprinklers
Later in the fall, you won’t have to worry about grass. Cue the sprinklers. Disconnect them and blow out the sprinkler pipes so when it is really cold they don’t freeze and make a problem for you when everything is warm again. If you have a hose, clear it out and put it in storage. Insulate the spigot into which you connected your hose as it can break like any other pipe. And a broken pipe is way harder to deal with as it gets cooler.
Be aware of straining your drain
The other half of the equation is less about the climate outside and more about the one inside. In the fall, holidays come quick. Whether it’s Halloween, Thanksgiving, or, eventually, Christmas, there’s a chance you’ll be entertaining more than the usual number of people. After you arrange a meal, there is likely to be fat and grease left over. Do not slide it into the drain; instead, move it into a trash can.
Use your appliances effectively
If you have a garbage disposal, let it run before you begin dropping miscellaneous food in. Once you finish, allow for a lot of water to rinse it out. Use your dishwasher when everyone is gone so you aren’t splitting your pressure between the dishes and other needs, like a shower or a washing machine. According to Roto-Rooter, the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year. This is because of a larger volume of food debris––not because of the cool climate.
Frozen piping is expensive
Frozen or burst pipes are a big deal and “the average insurance claim for water damage from frozen pipes is about $15,000.” It doesn’t always get cold enough for pipes to freeze in Savannah, but it can. Use polyurethane pipe wraps to cover any exposed piping. Although you should go after all of your plumbing, the ones nearest to the outside of the home are of greatest risk in freezing. If you eventually turn on the heat, open any doors between the pipes so it can circulate.
Make sure your water heater is in top shape
Finally, check into your water heater. Although you may value it in the warmer half of the year, it’ll really earn its keep when you are in need of a cup of tea or a warm shower to chase off an incoming cold––or the cold. Although you want it warm, you don’t need it too hot. Keep it at or below 125º F. Drain your heater and remove all the sediment that accumulated over the summer. If you were thinking of replacing it, now is the time. Also check on your sump pump.
Suggested further reading for fall/winter plumbing preparation: