The arrival of fall weather brings its own set of considerations for keeping your home in good shape, including seasonal plumbing checks and upkeep tasks. It’s important to ensure your plumbing systems are running smoothly and efficiently going into the colder months. Here’s a checklist of precautionary inspections and maintenance tasks to complete every fall.
1. Perform Water Heater Maintenance
Annual maintenance is usually necessary to ensure your water heater is working properly and will last as long as possible, especially as your hot water usage increases with the season change. One important task is to flush your water heater to get rid of naturally occurring sediment that settles at the bottom of your tank and can erode your tank. Flushing your tanked water heater of built-up sediment will also ensure proper heat transfer and improve your water heater’s efficiency. Another task is to test the temperature and pressure relief valve, which is designed to release excess pressure within your tank. If rusted shut or unable to open, you will need a replacement valve or risk water leaking out of your unit. Keep in mind that water heater maintenance involves risk of contact with extremely hot water and is best performed by licensed plumbers who’ve taken necessary precautions.
2. Clean Leaves Out of Exterior Sump Pumps & Gutters
Inevitably, falling leaves can collect and clog an exterior sump pump as well as your gutters. At times, rain may wash away some of the leaves, but it’s far more likely the leaves will continue to accumulate and clog these important drainage systems. Worse, once they begin to decompose, the leaves can back up your sump pump and prevent it from working properly, and clog your downspouts, allowing water to collect in your gutters. A malfunctioning sump pump clogged with debris may not be able to operate as needed to protect your home during rainstorms. On the other hand, water-filled gutters can allow moisture to seep up underneath the edge of your roof or down underneath the siding. Either way, these two issues with unwanted water in your home are easily preventable with regular leaf removal and cleaning.
3. Check for Leaks and Drips
Any amount of water leaking out of pipes or pipe joints is potentially damaging to your home. Even small leaks can cause issues such as mold and damage to home interiors and structural integrity. The possibility for plumbing leaks exists on a year-round basis, and should be checked for regularly and repaired quickly when found. But in the winter, pipes run a much higher likelihood of freezing and bursting – due to the water expanding within the pipes as it freezes. Any vulnerabilities in the pipes will pose an even greater risk in the winter, which is why it’s important to address leaks and drips as soon as possible.
4. Seal Gaps between Pipes and Exterior Walls
Over time, it’s possible for gaps or loosening to occur in the caulking, filler or sealant in between your pipes and the exterior walls of your home. In the winter, these gaps allow cold air into your home, which could cause your pipes to freeze as well as increase your heating costs. In addition, unwanted pests seeking relief from the cold can and do find their way into your home, chewing through insulation in existing gaps in exterior walls. Walk around and inspect the outside and interior of your home where pipes meet the exterior walls. Wherever you see gaps or loosened caulking, insulate and seal those cavities around pipes during the fall maintenance period so you’re all set for winter.
Thankfully, most of the inspections and maintenance to-dos on this list are precautionary measures, but are still important tasks to complete every fall. Accounting for and checking these tasks off your list can identify and prevent potential plumbing problems.