Plumbing Tips For a Worry-Free Holiday

During the holiday season, our homes often become the hub for family and friends, but all the hustle and bustle of family gatherings and holiday parties can put a strain on your plumbing. There’s nothing worse than running out of hot water mid-shower when all the cousins are in town or a toilet getting stopped up before the ball even drops on New Year’s Eve. To avoid the issues and have a worry-free holiday remember these plumbing tips…

1. Go Easy on Your Sink

Coming together with family and friends to enjoy a holiday meal is one of the staples of the season. With Aunt Abby’s fruit cake, Uncle Tim’s ham, Grandma’s fudge and all the food in-between it’s almost impossible to clear your plate and you are bound to have some scraps. Avoid a clogged drain and an over-worked/ill-performing garbage disposal by throwing your food scraps into the regular trash and NEVER pouring grease, oil or fat down the drain.

2. Don’t Run Out of Hot Water

If you have a lot of holiday guests using your shower, your hot water could run out pretty quickly. To avoid running out of hot water mid-shower, turn up your water heater to increase its capacity to meet holiday house guest demands (we suggest not exceeding 125ºF). Spacing out the times people shower and allowing the hot water tank enough time to heat up between uses will also help ensure that everyone has plenty of hot water.

If the lack of hot water isn’t just a holiday issue, consider switching to a tankless water heater that will heat water as it is used to make things more convenient. Bonus: you won’t have to worry about running out of hot water for countless holiday seasons to come!

3. Prevent Frozen Pipes

Fitting pipes with insulation, either in sleeve form or wrapping, can help prevent them from freezing. Keeping interior cabinet doors open can also help keep your pipes warm. Pipes are often located in cabinets. When the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to keep these cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well.

If you are afraid a pipe will freeze on a bitter cold night, it is also a good precaution to allow your faucet to drip slightly. Allowing the faucet to drip will relieve pressure in the system. If a pipe does become frozen, it is the pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that will cause the pipe to burst. Allowing the faucet to drip will prevent this pressure from building up and thus, keep the pipe from bursting.

4. Prevent Clogged Toilets

If your toilet already seems to have a slow or weak flush, this can indicate that a clog is forming in your toilet drain. Instead of waiting until your home is filled with holiday guests and your toilet won’t flush at all, go ahead and take care of the problem (just call us). It is also a good idea to remind your holiday guests to ONLY put toilet paper in the bowl. Flushing facial tissues, wipes, napkins, paper towels, floss, coffee grounds, hair, feminine hygiene products, grease and other fats or oils, medications, plastic and diapers will only contribute to more clogging.

Remember these plumbing tips to avoid issues and have a worry-free holiday AND if a holiday plumbing emergency does occur, don’t forget that you can always call Eastern Plumbing we’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency!

Protect Pipes and Tankless Water Heaters From Freezing Temperatures

“Make sure to drip your faucets,” is a piece of advice we often hear from others when the temperatures begin to drop below the freezing mark. You’ll be happy to know these advice givers are right! Leaving your faucet open during cold weather will help prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting – which can lead to very expensive damages to your home. In addition to dripping your faucets, there are more ways to prevent winter from wreaking havoc on your plumbing system. Keep these tips in mind as things begin to cool down.

1. Keep Your Heat On

If you are leaving your home for an extended period of time, especially around the holiday season, or if you are looking to winterize your vacation home, be sure to keep the heat on. You do not have to set the temperature as high as you normally would if you were actually there, but keeping it set above 50° is advised. This should provide enough warmth to keep the water inside your pipes from freezing.

2. Open Cabinet Doors

You may not know this, but pipes are often located in the cabinets. As the temperature begins to reach the freezing point, it is a good idea to keep cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of your house can keep these pipes warm as well.

3. Use Domes on Outside Faucets

To reduce the likelihood of water pipes freezing and causing a costly leak, place an insulating dome or other covering on any outdoor faucet or spigot. You can purchase these inexpensive covers at your local hardware or home improvement store.

4. Insulate Your Pipes

It is important to insulate the pipes in your home’s attic, crawl space or other areas that may not have proper insulation. Fit your pipes with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves to help decrease the chances of freezing.

5. Seal Cracks and Holes

While you are in the basement or attic insulating exposed pipes, take the time to look for any holes or cracks that may exist near pipes. Caulk any holes you see on both interior and exterior walls. By doing this you are helping to keep warm air in and cold air out. Remember that in severe cold, even the slightest hole can let enough cold air in to cause pipes to freeze.

Old Man Winter does not look kindly upon plumbing systems. In addition to protecting your pipes from freezing, you should also take measures to prevent your tankless water heater from freezing as well.

6. Insulate External Pipes

While tankless hot water heating systems contain freeze prevention heaters, the hot and cold water plumbing lines leading to and from the water heater do not. Protect these lines from freezing by insulating them with items such as pipe covers, solenoids or heat tape.

If your pipes or tankless water heater freezes despite taking these preventive measures, don’t panic. Just because your pipes are frozen does not mean they have already burst. If you turn the faucet on and nothing comes out, leave it turned on and contact Eastern Plumbing right away. We’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency.

Frozen Pipes – Preventing and Thawing

As colder weather sweeps the country, there are many threats to your home’s plumbing. One of these is frozen pipes. When water inside your pipes freezes, it expands. This expansion can wreak havoc on the pipes that run throughout your house, causing ruptures and cracks. There are several steps you can take to prevent freezing from happening, as well as thawing them back out if it does.

Preventing

The best method to ensure healthy plumbing is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Disconnect outdoor water hose

A garden hose left out in the cold can cause a chain reaction of freezing to take place throughout your home. Water could freeze in the hose and then move into the water lines.

Insulating all water pipes

Use foam/rubber pipe insulator or some other safe method to keep pipes dry and help prevent freezing. This needs to be done correctly in order to prevent mold growth and decay by generating and retaining moisture inside.

Keep pipes heated

This can be done in a variety of ways. Heat tape and heated reflector lamps are two examples of ways to keep pipes from freezing.

Keep home warm

Turning up the thermostat will help in limiting the amount of cold air circulating throughout the home and increase the temperature of everything inside. It is also important to keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night to help avoid the forming of condensation.

Turn off sprinkler system

Not only does the main water supply to the irrigation system need to be shut off, but it also needs to be protected. Make sure that it is wrapped in insulation or some other form of shelter to protect it from freezing temperatures. This can even be done with mulch or pine straw.

Drip faucets

Keep water running through the pipes at a slow rate by dripping your faucets. This helps to avoid the settling of water. Another tip is to attach a string to the faucet that hangs down to avoid annoying dripping sounds.

Thawing

If pipes do freeze, there are best practices when it comes to thawing them back out.

Apply heat to pipe and surrounding air directly

This can be done with a hair dryer, heat gun, electric heating pad, space heater, bare incandescent bulbs, heat lamps and other methods. This heating needs to be applied gradually and evenly and monitored closely to avoid pipe and water damage.

Wrap with heat tape/cable

This can be purchased from most hardware stores. Wrap this tape/cable around the pipe in a single layer and then plug it in. Do not overlap electric heat tape/cable. It is recommended to wrap around pipe in a spiral motion.

Open faucets slightly

This is the same idea as prevention. Flowing water will help reduce stagnant water and result in less freezing. Also, the running water will help thaw out the ice if it does develop.

Pour salt down frozen drain

Salt lowers the melting point of ice. Start with pouring a tablespoon of salt down the drain and then give it a few moments to start working.

If you’re leaving your house for an extended period of time this winter, there are certain steps that should be taken to avoid coming home to frozen pipes and subsequent damage. Shut off the main water supply and open all faucets. This will help empty the water out of the pipes and reduce the sitting water left. Also, flushing all of the toilets helps accomplish this. Before you leave, set your thermostat no lower than 55º F. Doing so will aid in limiting the amount of cold air circulating throughout your home.

There are many ways to prevent and thaw out frozen pipes. Prevention is always the better route to avoid any serious and long-term damage. If a freeze does happen, locating the frozen pipe and then taking the necessary steps can be very tedious and difficult. It is recommended to get the help of a professional before acting uninformed. Contact Eastern Plumbing for all of your frozen pipe needs.

How to Winterize the Plumbing in Your Home

In the coming weeks temperatures will continue to drop, so now is the best time for homeowners in eastern North Carolina to begin preparing their homes for plumbing problems associated with cold weather. To prepare your home for the harsh winter months ahead and to ensure you avoid any unwanted plumbing nightmares, our experts at Eastern Plumbing have compiled a list of fall maintenance tips.

Disconnect Water Hoses.

If your water hoses are left connected, the water in the hoses can freeze and expand, causing faucets and pipes inside your home to break. Make sure to disconnect all outside water houses to prevent a potential flood.

Check Faucets.

Inspect your outside faucets to make sure they are not dripping or leaking. If they are, make the necessary repairs or call a plumber before the freezing temperatures arrive. When pipes freeze, water pressure builds up causing cracks. A tiny crack can unleash enough water to cause serious damaging or flooding. If you have an underground sprinkler system this will also need to be turned off by a professional.

Clear Gutter Debris.

Remove fall leaves and other debris from exterior gutters and downspouts. Throughout fall, winter and spring, temperatures will drop and rise and water will freeze and melt. Clearing your gutters and downspouts will ensure easy draining throughout the ever-changing seasons.

Flush Water Heater.

Your water heater works its hardest during winter months. Be sure to flush your water heater during this time of the year. When left untouched, sediment can buildup and cause corrosion, which shortens the life span of the water heater and reduces heating efficiency. To flush, drain several gallons of water from the faucet near the bottom of the tank. Connect a hose to the faucet and direct water into a nearby drain. As an added tip, test your pressure relief valve yearly. If the valves are dripping, have them replaced. Over pressurized tanks are dangerous if not addressed. For information regarding your specific make and model of water heater, visit your manufacturer’s website.

Insulate Pipes and Seal Leaks.

Insulate pipes in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces and garages, especially if your water heater is in the garage. Apply heat tape or thermostat-controlled heat cables around pipes that are exposed and prone to freezing. Seal leaks around doors and windows to reduce cold air penetration.