Preparing Your Pool for Fall and Winter

It’s time for pool owners to think about winterizing. Unless you live in one of the United States warmer climates, if you haven’t already, you’ll likely be taking your last dip in the pool shortly.

There’s no one-size-fits-all procedure for winterizing your pool. The pool design and accessories, as well as the climate and location, will affect the steps you need to take to keep your pool clean and in good condition until spring arrives next year. If you’re unsure what your pool needs, a knowledgeable plumber can help you prepare for the winter season and can give you advice on what you need to know moving forward.

However, there are a few best practices for most outdoor pools. If you’re going the Do-It-Yourself route and want to be sure you’ve thought of everything, you can pay attention to these steps:

  • Don’t drain the pool unless your specific pool design requires it. Draining and refilling a pool every season uses a large amount of water which could simply be re-treated next season. And, empty in-ground pools could suffer structural damage from the pressure of the soil against the outer walls, and rising groundwater can make a pool float out of the ground.
  • Reduce the water level. Many pools will have a freeze line indicator that shows the proper water level for winterization. This is usually about six inches below the inlets.
  • Use an algaecide from the start of the off-season and check directions to see if you need to reuse in the middle of winter. Preventing algae growth in the winter helps prevent staining and reduces the amount of time and chemical supplies you’ll need to get your pool ready in the spring.
  • Adjust the pH level one final time. In most climates, an appropriate pH falls between 7.0 and 7.8; however, you should consult with a local pool or plumbing professional to determine the ideal level for your pool.
  • Run your pool filter and vacuum thoroughly before shutting down for the winter. Once done, remove, clean and store all external equipment such as pumps and vacuums.
  • Completely drain all external lines. If you live in an extremely cold climate, it may be necessary to pour antifreeze into some of the lines to prevent cracking.
  • Keep your pool covered all season, preferably with a high-quality, all-weather cover designed specifically for your pool. Keep the pool cover clear of leaves, tree branches, snow and other debris as needed throughout the season.
  • The last step is to shut off the circuit breaker, and then your pool equipment is ready for next spring.
Shutting down your pool for the winter can be a big job, and not doing it correctly could result in costly damage. It is definitely worth doing it right the first time, so if you’re unsure of how to protect your pool, call in the pros. Contact Eastern Plumbing today!

Keep Your Water Heating Bill Low This Winter

Winter has arrived, which means harsh temperatures and pricey utility bills. Water heating is the second largest energy expense, accounting for about 18% of your household’s utility bills. The good news is that you can make small, easy tweaks to lower those costs and conserve energy at the same time. Read on for ideas on how to cut down on hot water use this winter.

Reduce your time in the shower.

With the temperature dropping outside, it’s tempting to take long, hot showers. But did you know that water comes through your home’s plumbing at an average of two gallons per minute? Think of all the water you’re paying to heat up! Keep your showers short and bundle up with a big towel and fluffy robe afterward.

Lower the temperature.

Water heaters sometimes come from the manufacturer with the temperature set at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The Federal Department of Energy recommends keeping the thermostat on your water heater set to 120 degrees. For every 10-degree reduction in temperature, you can save 3-5% on your water heating costs.

Insulate your tank.

Help your water heater preserve its warmth by insulating the storage tank. This will prevent the water from cooling down and forcing the unit to work overtime. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when installing insulation so you don’t accidentally cover up the thermostat or burner compartment.

Install a timer.

If you have an electric heater, install a timer that turns off at night or times when you don’t use it. You can also use the timer to turn off the water heater during your utility’s peak demand times. A timer is relatively inexpensive and it saves money on your water heating bill over time. For gas heaters, you can keep the temperature turned down most of the time and manually turn the temperature up about a half hour before you need it.

Flush your water heater annually.

There are several benefits to flushing the sediment from your hot water heater at least once a year. By flushing your water heater, you’ll have more room in your tank to store hot water. You’ll also keep bacteria from growing in your tank. Most importantly, you’ll save money on your utility bill because your tank will operate more efficiently.

Try out these tips for saving energy and see how much you can save. If your water heater is old, it might be a good idea to look into getting a new one. Today, new water heaters are more energy efficient. If you need service for your water heater or plumbing, give Eastern Plumbing a call.

Don’t Get Caught in the Cold with a Plumbing Emergency

The temperatures are dropping. This is the time of the year where your home is most prone to plumbing problems. Serious plumbing problem like cracked and frozen pipes should be left to plumbing professionals. However, there are many things homeowners can do on their own to prevent plumbing mishaps during the cold weather.

Be Wise. Winterize.

If you haven’t already done so, make sure your outside hoses are disconnected from faucets. To ensure your outside pipes don’t freeze and expand, causing serious leaks and flooding, turn off and drain the pipes.

Shut-off valves.

Close your valves and drain the water off, which makes the shutting down of external pipes easier. Once the exterior faucets are disconnected, they can be protected from the cold weather with lagging.

Insulate Pipes.

Use heat tape or insulating sleeves, available at most hardware stores, to protect your pipes from extreme temperatures.

Seal Windows and Doors.

Increase energy efficiency by sealing doors and windows from drafts. You can use materials that you can find in any home center. This will add a few degrees of warmth to your pipes and fixtures, keeping warm air inside your home.

Check Hot Water Heater.

Your water heater has an extra burden placed on it during cold months. Flush your heater out to get rid of any build-up sediments to prevent corrosion. Check the water pressure release valve, which should snap back into place when lifted after allowing a spurt of water to the drain. If you notice a slack, get a professional to replace the release valve.

For optimum performance during the cold season, set your water heater’s thermometer to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to clean dead leaves and other debris from around the downspouts to allow for better drainage.

Bring Your Faucets to a Slow Trickle.

Prevent ice build-up in your pipes during the cold months by leaving your faucets on at a very slow trickle, especially at night when temperatures can take a sudden plunge. This will ensure that water doesn’t accumulate in one place and freeze.

Close Main Water Valve.

If you plan on going on a winter vacation for an extended length of time, it’s a good idea to close the main water valve. Open the faucets at the top and base of the house to drain the system, keeping the heat on as you do.

Use Your Pipe Wrench.

A pipe wrench is an important tool to use in plumbing maintenance. The wrench enables you to get a good grip on pipes and fittings. Another good tool is a pair of pliers, which will help you adjust nuts and bolts. For bigger home plumbing jobs it’s best to get the help from a professional.

Contact Eastern Plumbing

Setting the standard in quality service for over 15 years, we help thousands of homeowners in eastern North Carolina with plumbing needs. The best defense to making sure your plumbing systems are running properly is to schedule annual maintenance inspections and keep on top of your systems before it’s too late. Our team of professionals consists of some of the most experienced and qualified plumbers working today. We’re available 24/7 for any plumbing emergency.