Monday, October 6th, 2014

Polar Vortex, The Sequel is Coming. Winterize Now!!!

In plumbing, there are two seasons: “Winterizing” and “The Rest of the Year”. Many people put more thought into hanging Christmas lights than into winterizing their home. As much as we enjoy Christmas lights, we would love, love, LOVE it if everyone would spend a Saturday winterizing their home. It’s time well spent. To help, below is an easy, top-to-bottom, winterization checklist.

Plumbing
Plumbing is especially susceptible to cold weather and freezing. Burst pipes from freezing can cause some of the most expensive repairs in the home. So let’s go over some of the basics to make you have them covered.

Inside – Insulation is Important
• Exposed water or drain pipes in crawlspaces, attics, outside walls, etc., should be insulated to prevent freezing and bursting. For an easy-to-follow tutorial, the folks over at the DIY network have some helpful information. View: http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-insulate-pipes/index.htmlhttp://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/how-to-insulate-pipes/index.html
• Consider an insulating blanket (available at the local hardware store) for your hot water tank. An insulating blanket can reduce the amount of energy needed to maintain hot water temperatures.
• Wall outlets notorious for cold air leaks. Reduce heat loss by insulating all outlets (exterior and interior) with inexpensive foam gaskets. .
• Chimneys – if your fireplace is more decorative than functional, use fiberglass insulation to fill the spaces behind the glass fireplace doors and block cold air coming down the chimney. NOTE: If you make a fire, remember to remove the insulation.

Outside – Protect Plumbing From the Elements
• Exterior faucets – As our blog readers know, Allied Reddi-Rooter is a big fan of frost-proof exterior faucets. They are practically maintenance-free. If you don’t have a frost-proof faucet, then take a few minutes and turn off the water supply to the exterior faucets before temperatures drop further. After turning off the water, drain the faucet by opening the outside valve (i.e., turn the water faucet on until no more water comes out). Additionally, consider an insulated Styrofoam cover for the faucet – they are inexpensive. Lastly, disconnect the garden hoses and store them in the garage or basement for the winter.
• Sprinklers — Purge your exterior sprinkler system by shutting off the water supply and forcing compressed air through the sprinkler lines to remove excess water and prevent lines from freezing and bursting.

Heating System Checklist
• Check the system. Turn the thermostat to “Heat” and set it to 80 degrees. Listen for the furnace to kick on and send warm air (along with a smell of dusty heat) within a few minutes. If the furnace is not working as you think it should, contact a local heating and cooling specialist; a fall tune-up may be needed.
• Replace the furnace filter — In the winter months, furnace filters should be changed every 2-4 months.
• Fuel – For heating oil or propane furnaces, make sure your tanks are full as we head into “Polar Vertex, The Sequel”.
• Vents, registers, and cold air returns – Do a quick walk through and ensure that there is no furniture, rugs, or piles of clothing laying on top of vents, registers, and cold air returns.

Cooling System Checklist
• Before turning off the exterior water supply, hose off the fan blades on the air conditioning unit. A good spray will remove debris and dirt from the interior of the unit.
• Invest in an air conditioning cover. Similar to a grill cover, these inexpensive vinyl covers will protect the unit from snow, ice, leaves, and small animals during the winter months.
• If you have a window unit air conditioner, either remove it or close the vents and place a cover over it to prevent cold air from entering your home.

Fireplaces and Chimneys
Unlike most winterizing items, fireplaces and chimneys are not a DIY item. Contact a local chimney sweep and ask them to perform a sweep. Typically, the inspection includes:

• Looking for signs of animals taking up house in your chimney.
• Verifying the flue damper is working correctly.
• The chimney draft (the chimney’s ability to properly draw up the fire and smoke) is in good order.
• An inspection of the fire bricks/fire box.

Outdoor Landscape
• Put away patio furniture, bring cushions inside, cover the furniture as needed.
• Consider a new coat of sealer on the deck.
• Drain the gas from the lawn mower/change the oil if needed; grease the mower deck if you have a riding mower.
• Drain water features, unplug the pumps and prepare them for winter.

Water You Waiting For? Allied Reddi-Rooter’s trained professionals are at the ready to assist with your winterizing needs. Whether it’s a regular home or a vacation home, we can manage your exterior faucets and sprinkler systems and interior plumbing needs. From sump pumps to hot water heaters, Allied is a full-service plumbing provider, available 24/7. Call today: 513-396-5300.