Tips to Protect Your Pipes from Freezing Temps

Freezing temperatures can cause major problems for your plumbing system, if preventative measures are not in place. When water freezes inside pipes, it expands and puts pressure on their walls. This pressure can lead to cracks or even bursting, causing extensive damage and flooding once the ice thaws. Here are our recommendations to prepare the plumbing in your home for freezing weather in Indianapolis.

Insulate Vulnerable Areas

Exposed pipes are highly susceptible to freezing. These include outdoor faucets, sprinkler lines, and any plumbing that runs through unheated spaces like basements, crawl spaces, or attics. Start by identifying these exposed pipes and insulate them using pipe insulation sleeves or wrapping them with heat tape.

Foundation cracks Small cracks in your home's foundation can allow cold air to seep in and reach your plumbing system. Carefully inspect both the interior and exterior foundation walls for any visible cracks or gaps. Seal them using an appropriate waterproof sealant or caulk to prevent drafts and maintain a consistent temperature.

Crawl spaces and attics are notorious for poor insulation and ventilation, making them prime candidates for frozen pipes. Ensure these areas are adequately insulated by installing insulation batts or rolls, paying special attention to the exposed plumbing within them.

If your garage is attached to the house, ensure there are no gaps around doors or windows that could let cold air in. Additionally, if you have plumbing fixtures in your garage, such as a utility sink or washing machine, insulate the pipes leading to those fixtures.

Maintain Adequate Heating

Set thermostat temperature - During freezing weather conditions, it's essential to keep your thermostat set at a consistent temperature day and night. Aim for a minimum of 55°F (13°C) even when you're not actively using certain areas of your home.

Open cabinet doors - If you have cabinets beneath sinks along exterior walls, open the doors to allow warm air from your home's heating system to circulate around the pipes. This simple trick can make a significant difference in preventing freezing.

Keep your garage doors closed as much as possible - This helps to maintain a warmer temperature inside and minimize exposure to freezing outdoor air.

Let Faucets Drip and Locate Water Shut-Off

In extreme cold weather conditions, even the best insulation may not guarantee absolute protection against frozen pipes. In such cases, taking extra precautions can make all the difference.

Drip facuets - When temperatures drop below freezing and you're concerned about pipes potentially freezing, allowing faucets to drip slightly can relieve pressure within the plumbing system. Even a small trickle of water flowing through the pipes can prevent them from freezing solid.

Locate your water shut-off - In situations where you'll be away from home for an extended period during frigid weather, it's advisable to shut off the main water supply and drain your pipes. This precautionary measure ensures there's no water left sitting in the system that could freeze while you're away.

Do you have questions about protecting your plumbing this winter?

Call the pros at L.D. Smith Plumbing to address any plumbing needs in your home - from preventataive to emergencies. Request an appointment today.

Five-step plumbing checklist for fall

While everyone is talking about pumpkin spice lattes and cozy sweaters, here’s a reminder that the plumbing in your home may need some attention this season. Now is the time to prepare your plumbing system for the cold weather ahead. Here’s our top five checklist:

Inspect and Insulate Your Pipes

Before the temperature plummets, take some time to inspect your pipes for any signs of damage or wear. Look for leaks or cracks in exposed pipes and ensure that all connections are secure. If you spot any issues, it's best to address them promptly to prevent further damage.

In addition to inspection, proper insulation is key in safeguarding your plumbing system from freezing temperatures. Insulating pipes in unheated areas such as basements, crawl spaces, or attics can help prevent costly repairs down the road. Consider using foam insulation sleeves or wrapping pipes with heat tape to provide an extra layer of protection.

Clear Gutters and Downspouts

While you're up on that ladder removing leaves from your gutters and downspouts might not seem directly related to plumbing maintenance; it plays a vital role in keeping your drainage system functioning properly. Clogged gutters can lead to water backups and overflow, potentially causing water damage near your home's foundation. By ensuring proper water flow away from your property through clear gutters and downspouts, you can prevent basement flooding and other related plumbing issues.

Service Your Water Heater

Fall serves as an excellent reminder to give your water heater some TLC. If your water heater is older than seven years old, it may be time to determine if you need a new one (Shameless plug: We offer water heaters as low as $27 a month with financing). Sediment buildup can occur over time, reducing its efficiency and lifespan. To prevent this, consider draining a few gallons of water from the tank to flush out any accumulated sediment. This simple task can help improve your water heater's performance and energy efficiency. Give us a call if you have questions about flushing your water heater.

Protect Your Outdoor Plumbing

As the temperature drops, it's crucial to protect your outdoor plumbing fixtures such as garden hoses, irrigation systems, and outdoor faucets. Begin by disconnecting hoses from outdoor spigots and drain any remaining water before storing them for the winter. If you have an irrigation system, make sure to shut off the water supply and drain any excess water to prevent freezing and potential damage. Additionally, consider investing in insulated faucet covers to shield your outdoor faucets from freezing temperatures.

Check faucets for leaks

Did you know a faucet leak could waste a significant amount of water over time – and hit your wallet! Take time this fall to check the toilets, faucets, and pipes in your home for any leaks. Also, consider installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators. These devices reduce water consumption without sacrificing performance, allowing you to enjoy a refreshing shower or wash dishes while minimizing wastage.

These proactive steps early in the season will not only safeguard your plumbing system but alert you to any issues that may require a professional plumber.

Need a plumber? Contact Indy's plumbing heroes at L.D. Smith Plumbing. Request an appointment today.

Common Plumbing Dilemmas

From a leaky faucet to a broken sump pump, you never know when a plumbing problem will occur. At L.D. Smith Plumbing, we've seen it all. We have compiled a list of some of the most common plumbing dilemmas and what might be the cause. Lance recently visited Life.Style. Live! to share a few of these dilemmas. Watch the video below.

Why is water backing up?

It could be a recurring clog, sewer line damage, hair or tree roots. It depends on the line.  

Why is my water heater leaking?

This could be caused by a cracked or corroded water heater tank, loose or faulty fittings and pipe connections. These problems could occur due to age of the water heater, high water pressure or thermal expansion.  

Why do we run out of hot water so fast?
There could be several reasons for this, including mechanical failure. Another reason could be your current storage tank water heater isn’t big enough to handle the needs in your home and you might need a larger water heater. There also may be sediment clogging the tank reducing the flow of water.

Is it safe to use popular drain cleaners to treat a clog?

Lance does not believe chemical drain cleaners are ever safe to use because these products not only damage metallic piping or equipment but can be harmful to the skin if there is contact or if inhaled. The best recommendation is to call a plumber to assess the problem as drain cleaners could be hiding a larger issue

I just purchased an older home. What should I know about my plumbing?

If the plumbing is all original, make sure a qualified professional inspects it. The primary concerns Lance has about plumbing in older homes are: The age of the water service and sewer line, and the age and condition of the water lines and drainage within the home.

I have multiple slow-draining sinks in my home. Is one clog the cause?  It depends if all sinks are connected to the same line, but most likely not.

Plumbing problem? Request an appointment with the experts at L.D. Smith Plumbing in Indianapolis.

Plumbing checklist for spring..Six things to do now

Spring is here! That means gardening, outdoor parties, and prepping the pool for summer fun. As you plan your spring cleaning list, don't forget about the plumbing in your home. Here are few reminders:

Sump pump: Spring brings many days of rain. Be sure your sump pump is ready to tackle substantial amounts of rainfall. A quick way to check your sump pump is to unplug the unit, plug it back in, and listen for a gurgling sound or vibration when the unit is back on. Next, find the float or sump pump sensor in the basin and lift it up. If the sump pump turns on, the system is working properly. 

Water heater: If your storage water heater is older than seven years old, it's time to get it checked to be sure it is working efficiently. Signs you might need a new water heater are: Low water pressure, gurgling noises, or infrequent hot water.

Hoses: Spring is a great time to check supply hoses for leaks. Check appliances such as your dishwasher and washing machine. We recommend using stainless steel hoses.

Faucets: According to the EPA, a leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. Check the faucets in your home to be sure there are no leaks and the fixtures are working properly.

Mineral deposits on shower head: Indianapolis is one of the top cities in the U.S. with hard water. That means your shower head will likely be covered with scaly mineral deposits. If you are not ready to replace the shower head, vinegar and water solution is a great way to remove all that yucky buildup.

Drains: Sometimes do-it-yourself fixes do not work to clear a stubborn drain clog. If water is draining slowly in your shower or bathtub, you are experiencing a clog that needs immediate attention. 

The experts at L.D. Smith Plumbing know how to put water back in its place - and keep it there. Request an appointment to solve your urgent plumbing problem.