Whether you’re planning on going away from the winter or staying put, you want your home’s plumbing to operate smoothly. If you’re a snowbird, you know how important it is to properly winterize your home before heading out of Iowa during the colder months. The same is true if you stick out the winters here at home. So many things can go wrong. When your home has a sump pump, if not properly prepared for winter, discharge lines can freeze, leading to breaks and that can mean you end up with sewage in your home. That’s one of the worst-case scenarios. Let’s talk about how to prevent expensive damage from happening in the first place.

Winterize Your Basement

When it comes to issues with plumbing in the winter, the basement is a good place to start. Not only is this usually the home of your water heater and sump pump, but if it’s unfinished, it’s probably much cooler than upstairs.

Clean your Sump Pump Pit

A sump pump pit is where your sump pump actually sits. When correctly designed and installed, the pit will collect any excess water that would end up in your basement. As you could guess, if that water freezes, the pump can freeze. Not only can this cause leaks from the pit itself, but you may not be aware of it until springtime, when snow starts to melt and you’re left with a mess in your basement.

Insulate Sump Pump Discharge Lines

The discharge line connected to your sump pump is what moves excess water away from your home. This helps protect your foundation and basement from potential flooding and damage. However, because the line is buried underground, they’re susceptible to freezing when temperatures drop. That’s why it’s so important to insulate both your discharge line and intake system. Doing so can keep the water from freezing, which could expand the line and lead to leaks.

Winterizing the Exterior

The exterior of your home is its first line of defense against the frigid temperatures of Iowa winters. From freezing rain and snow to howling winter winds, your home needs to be prepared to protect you from damage and unnecessary energy costs.

Take in the Garden Hose

Disconnecting and hauling in your garden hose before winter seems like such a simple task, but it’s one that can save you headaches. If water is trapped inside the hose and it’s left connected to your home during the winter, that water will freeze, which can lead to a frozen faucet and connected pipes. By winding it up and putting it away for winter, you can prevent unwanted plumbing costs.

Inspect Your Roof

Damage that happened in the summer can affect your home in the winter. Iowa storms can bring heavy rain, hail, and wind, followed by periods of drought and sunny days. Take a look at your roof to make sure there are no clear signs of damage. Clear your gutters and search for possible leaks. Make sure you’re washing out your downspouts, because leaves and gunk can get stuck, ice can accumulate, and leaks can result.

Keep Your Heat Running

If you’re going away for the winter, you may think it’s safe to simply turn off your thermostat. You would be wrong. Making sure your heat is on during the winter months should be a priority. For those of us who stick out the cold Iowa winters, but are concerned about heating costs, a smart thermostat is the answer. With the smart thermostats available today, you can put your heat on a timer and control it from your smartphone, so you can keep your home cooler while you’re away and turn up the heat before you get home.

How to Tell if Your Pipes are Frozen

There are a couple of telltale signs when your pipes are frozen. The most obvious is that water doesn’t come out when you turn on a faucet. When you know you didn’t forget to pay the water bill, it’s freezing out, and this happens, this is likely the cause. Secondly, if you can hear water flowing, but you’re not running water to a sink or bathtub, there’s probably a leak due to a frozen pipe.

Red Flags: Signs of a Leaking Pipe

When you know what to look for when it comes to leaky pipes, you can catch the problem earlier, so if you notice any of the following, it’s a sign there’s a crack:

Higher Water Bills

If you haven’t been doing something out of the ordinary when it comes to water usage, but your water bill is substantially higher than normal, a leak could be to blame. The faster you get it fixed, the easier it will be.

Mold and Mildew Accumulation

Check the floors, baseboards, and walls around your bathtub, kitchen sink, and laundry area regularly. These spots are often the places trouble arrives. If you see discoloration, it could be a sign of a leak.

Spots on the Ceiling

Look up to your ceiling. Water leaks on ceilings can show up as little discolored spots at first, but could grow. You may also notice what looks like an outline on your ceiling. These are signs that you’ve sprung a leak. Stains on your ceilings are not normal. It’s time to call a professional.

Smell of Must

A basement shouldn’t smell musty, even if you’re used to it. Stagnant water is usually to blame for that scent. Water isn’t supposed to be sitting around in your home, on your basement floors, in your walls, etc.

Relying on Cyclone Contracting

From installation to repairs, and water heaters to sump pumps, we’re ready when you need us when it comes to plumbing in the Ames area. We know that plumbing problems don’t just happen during business hours. That’s why we’re available 24/7. If you’d like to learn more about the services we offer, feel free to contact us today!