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How Do Seasons Affect the Health of Your Home’s Plumbing?

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Homeowner November 11, 2019
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Flo

Most homeowners are intimately familiar with the late fall ritual of frantically winter-proofing every pipe in the system to avoid any unfortunate disasters when the temperatures hit freezing. And while it’s true that wintertime boasts temperatures that wreak havoc on an unprepared plumbing system, it’s far from the only time of year that can cause plumbing damage. 

 

Here’s a general breakdown of what can happen to your home’s plumbing as the seasons cycle through.

The Cold of Winter

Of course, the coldest months of the year bring with them the possibility of frozen pipes. And we all know what happens when water freezes inside a water line. Since the ice expands and the pipes cannot, cracks or even full breakages can occur. Usually the break happens far from the initial site of the ice due to the enormous buildup of pressure.  

How to Prevent It

 

Insulate your pipes if you haven’t already. Using heat tape under the insulation can add an extra layer of protection. Then make sure you have properly drained and closed any shut off valves leading outdoors. 

The Summer Heat

 

Everyone’s favorite vacation months bring with them their own unique risks and challenges. Preparing for the summertime can be just as important as prepping your home for winter. 

 

All those extra UV rays that beat down on hot summer days can actually damage exposed piping. It could take years for pipes to break or crack from overexposure to sunlight, but there will be warning signs that show up along the way. When you start to notice the first hints of damage to exposed piping, deal with it promptly to avoid bigger, more costly damage later on. 

 

The summer months also bring with them a lot of extra stress on your plumbing. Summer is the time when we run sprinklers and pool filters. It’s the season when friends come over for outdoor barbecues and all our plumbing fixtures get used much more frequently than they do in the winter or springtime. All that added stress and heat can lead to leaks or clogged drains. In worst case scenarios, pipes or even a water main could burst in the middle of summer.  

How to Prevent It

 

Store-bought cleaners and boiling water can be used to clear minor clogs before they become bad enough to warrant professional intervention. Beyond that, try to minimize the amount of starchy foods that get thrown down the garbage disposal. 

Precipitation

 

Next to temperature, precipitation is probably the most dangerous element to your plumbing system. During the precipitous times of the year, you’ll need to be extra cautious. Sometimes there’s no predicting when a sudden bout of rain or sleet is going to hit, but if you live in an area with predictable periods of high precipitation, you’ll want to be prepared. 

 

Heavy levels of water from rain or sleet can increase the pressure on your pipes, either directly or by soaking the ground around them. This can also cause underground pipes to shift, potentially cracking them. Debris and soil, shaken loose by high levels of precipitation, may also work their way into your pipes, causing backups. 

How to Prevent It

 

The best line of defense against damaged plumbing from heavy rainfall or other precipitation is to make sure your pipes are all in top-notch working order before the rainy season hits. Take advantage of the early spring or fall to fix up minor repairs that may come back to haunt you during rainier times. 

Wind

 

Don’t think that your plumbing is immune to winds just because most of it is behind walls or underground. Severe wind can actually take quite a toll on your plumbing system. If a big storm rattles your walls, expect to see an effect on your drainage and water pressure. If you share your property with many trees, there’s also the possibility that strong winds can uproot or otherwise disturb the tree’s roots, leading to potential damage to underground lines. 

How to Prevent It

 

Be careful when arranging your landscaping. Consider the proximity of trees and shrubs to water and sewer lines. While roots from smaller plants will not be able to upheave your pipes in the wind, they may still tangle themselves into your pipes should their roots grow long enough. 

Stay on Top of Small Leaks

 

No matter what the season, you should always strive to be on top of plumbing repairs. The tiniest leak now can become a huge problem in extreme weather later. So don’t wait to repair that leaking pipe or running faucet. 

 

And don’t be fooled by what you can’t see. A slow leak in an unexposed pipe can often go unnoticed until it’s too late. Utilizing a smart home system like the Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff can help you monitor your pipe activity. Addressing small issues as they crop up will extend the life of your plumbing system and save you endless hassle and money in the long run.

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