Imagine this: Your family just returned to your Plainfield home after a fun-filled Christmas holiday. Let’s also say it’s snowing, considering the city gets an average of five snowy days every December. So, all you likely want to do at this point is to take a hot shower or bath to warm yourself up.
Unfortunately, you soon discover that your hot taps only produce a thin stream of tepid water. You also hear the unmistakable sound of running water somewhere.
Those are typical signs of burst pipes or problems with water heaters. Fortunately, proper maintenance and winter water filtration practices can help prevent such issues.
In this guide, we’ll discuss what you can do to troubleshoot, fix, and keep such problems at bay, so read on.
Turn off the Main Water Shutoff Valve
Burst pipes are among the leading causes of water damage insurance claims. In the U.S., about one in 60 insured homeowners file one yearly. The flooding they cause can lead to water damage and potential mold infestation.
So, if you suspect you have leaking or burst pipes, the first thing to do is to close your main water shutoff valve. This completely stops the water supply, preventing any further leaks or flooding.
What It Looks Like
Your main shutoff valve can be a gate-type, which looks like a wheel, or a ball-type, a levered mechanism. To close a gate valve, rotate its wheel clockwise until you meet resistance. If you have a ball valve, move its lever clockwise to the “CLOSE” position.
Where It Is
If you’re unsure where the valve is, it may be outside, located near the perimeter of your home facing the street.
If not, and you have a basement, check the interior side of the wall facing the street. It may be on the opposite side of your outdoor hose bib.
If your house is on a slab and you have a water heater tank installed, inspect the area near the latter. The valve may be above or under.
Once you’ve closed the valve, test an outdoor bib or an indoor tap to confirm that no more water flows into your home. Then, go to the area where you heard running water before; the sounds should have also disappeared.
If you can’t find any flooded area or think your burst pipes are inside walls or ceilings, it’s time to hire a plumber.
Plumbers in Plainfield, IL, use specialized equipment like listening discs, ground microphones, and thermal cameras. These gadgets allow them to identify and find water leaks that are otherwise hidden. They can then fix the issues immediately after.
Your plumbing contractor may also recommend insulating exposed pipes. This can help protect them from below-zero conditions that can make them freeze and burst.
Inspect Your Water Heater
Your water heater may be behind your lukewarm water or low-pressure woes. These issues can arise from leaks, sediment build-up, corrosion, or failed heating elements.
Here are some tips you can follow before you call one of your local Plainfield, IL, plumbers.
Check Your Heater’s Pilot Light
A water heater’s pilot light is a tiny flame that ignites the gas and makes the burner fire. It should remain lit when the system is on. However, a gust of wind, dirt build-up, misalignment, or a problem with the gas supply can make it go out.
If the pilot light on your heater has gone out, relight it by following the instructions on the side of your unit.
If it lights up but flickers or goes out again, it’s likely dirty or misaligned. There may also be an issue with the gas line restricting supply to your system. In these situations, your best bet is to schedule plumbing repair for your water heater.
You should also pay attention to rotten egg smells. This signals a gas leak, which can cause fires, explosions, and health symptoms.
In that case, immediately turn off the gas supply valve and call your gas supplier and a local plumber. Then, open several windows as you exit your home with everyone (including pets!) and wait for the pros outside. This can help dissipate and prevent the gas from building up inside your home.
Check Your Heater’s Circuit Breaker
If you’re not getting hot water from an electric heater, its circuit breaker may have tripped. You should find this inside your main electric panel.
Look for the switch for your water heating system to see if it’s in the “OFF” position. If it is, slide it back to “ON.”
Wait 15 to 30 minutes, then try running a hot water tap. If everything goes smoothly, you should have hot water again.
Flush Your Heater
Flushing your water heater once or twice yearly helps remove sediments. You must do this, as dissolved minerals can clog pipes and form limescale on heating elements. These problems can reduce the system’s heating efficiency and cause low water pressure.
Check your water heating system’s manual for specific manufacturer instructions. You can also hire a plumber to perform this task as part of your heater’s yearly maintenance.
Consider Installing a Whole-House Water Filter
Tap water may contain impurities, bacteria, and minerals that water filters can remove. You have two primary choices: point-of-use and point-of-entry devices.
A point-of-use filter serves a specific or single fixture, such as a kitchen tap.
By contrast, a whole-house system filters all the water before it enters your home. So, it can also protect plumbing components from clogs caused by minerals and sediments. For the same reason, it can help minimize the risks of blockages that can cause pipes to burst.
Protect Pipes and Water Heaters With These Tips
Problems with pipes and water heaters can lead to severe issues like leaks and bursting. The latter is especially prevalent during winter.
You can prevent those issues by hiring a professional plumber. They can insulate your pipes, install water filters, and service your system yearly.
So, are you ready to winterize your plumbing system?
Then, our licensed and bonded plumbers at Leto Plumbing & Heating can help! We provide the most reliable plumbing and HVAC services in Plainfield, IL. Call us today, and we’ll happily winterize your pipes and water heater!