Prepare for Winter and avoid disaster with the following tips!
Freeze ups, burst pipes and heating system failures are nothing new to us New Englanders. Once in a while we will run into EXTREME cold snaps and when coupled with a Nor’easter this can lead to a disaster. Keep this sheet and share with others as it can and will save you from becoming a victim of this extreme weather.
If you have a thermostat that requires a battery for power, check the battery level at the beginning of the heating season and if needed change them out. It is also good practice to check this before leaving for a vacation. This will ensure that the heating system remains in operation while you are gone or not at home!
Smart Thermostats Provide a Permenant Soultion
Smart thermostats that are professionally installed have constant power going to them so you do not have to worry about changing batteries out. You can also set it up so that it notifies you when there are issues with the heating system.
For those that live in condos
If you’re in a condo association, have an emergency contact available to neighbors in the event that you are not home (on vacation or at work) and your heating goes down or pipes freeze and break! There is no point to having a smart thermostat such as an Eco Bee or a Nest that will notify you when the heat isn’t working if you can’t gain access to the unit!
Other Smart Devices
A whole home leak detection and smart plumbing valve is a great idea when living in the Northeast. These devices notify you of leaks, can be set to automatically close and can be controlled remotely in these event that you have a potential situation coming up such as frozen pipes. It is great to pair these up with smart thermostats for the following reasons:
Smart thermostat notifies you that your heat is not operating properly
With smart home plumbing valve you can shutdown the main water supply to your house. If the pipes are still not working properly, you can stop the supply of water in the event that the pipe expands and breaks. This allows you to avoid a catastrophic flood in your home
More Winter Tips From Akian Plumbing
It’s always best practice to have a professional such as ourselves at Akian Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning perform preventative maintenance. This allows a professional to get eyes on the system prior to the season and catch problems before they arise. We like to compare our business model to the airline industry. You don’t see planes falling out of the sky as often as you see heating systems going down mid-winter. This is because in the airline industry they are constantly performing maintenance, repairing and replacing parts before they become major issues. At Akian, we believe in being proactive and handling issues before they become critical problems so that you and your family can rest assured that you’ll be comfortable and warm.
Always Get Preventative Maintenance
Don’t wait too far into the season to turn your system on. Many folks like to test and see how long they can go before firing off their heating system in the hopes of saving money on gas, electric or oil to find that they don’t have an operating system at a time when they need it most.
If Your Heating System Goes into a Chimney
It’s good practice to have your chimney inspected annually to ensure that it is intact, no debris blocking the passageway and that it is safe to exhaust the fumes that come from your heating system into it.
Know How to Find Your Water Main Shutoff Valve
In the event of a pipe freezing and/or bursting it is important to know where your main emergency water shut off valve is and make sure that it is operable. It is typically located in your basement toward the front of the house and in many cases looks like the photo here.
There are many valves that are connected to an old iron water main (the pipe that comes in from the street that feeds your home) and this adds complexity to the problem as they are fragile and are likely to break when disturbed leading to more issues since the shutoff valve for that is out on the street and requires a professional from your towns water department to come out and shut it off. Below is an example of an iron main.
Winterize your home
Be aware of any plumbing on outside walls. Pipes and fixtures located on exterior walls are prone to freezing. Hose connections on the outside of the house should be a frost-free type or have a shutoff valve inside the house with a means to drain residual water. This also applies to your irrigation system if you have one. If you’re not sure you have an irrigation system look for a second water meter which in most cases are labeled “Irrigation” or check outside for a backflow preventer. Any hoses connected on the outside of the house should also be disconnected as residual water can freeze causing the outside hose connection to break.
Look around the outside of your house before the winter comes to be sure you have no gaps, crevices or areas where a draft can enter the home. Even if you have no plumbing pipes or fixtures on outside walls there can still be plumbing that serves bathrooms, kitchens, laundries, etc. that can freeze if a draft gets to them.
Have a Backup Plan
Heating systems can also freeze up and for this reason it is important you have a backup! Plug-in type space heaters have saved many clients of ours from disaster. When used properly, they are a safe and effective means of keeping your home warm. It is not uncommon for a pipe serving a heating system, ESPECIALLY baseboard heat that runs along the perimeter of your home to freeze. Keep in mind these systems are full of water and although they come out of the boiler hot, they can stop circulating and lead to disaster.
Our services include pipe insulation. This will help keep the pipes insulated and can also save energy on heating and hot water bills! Rebates available from Mass Save (check with Mass Save to ensure still available)!
Frost free or winter proof hose connections
Whenever we install exterior hose connections or replace them we typically install a frost-free type. We still recommend shutting off the water supply from inside of the home and draining any residual water but it is a nice extra step to help prevent a freeze and break from occurring. We can install isolation and drain valves on your existing system as well so that you can “winterize” them.