Mike Muccia’s first 4 tips to get ready for winter
Mike’s Tip #1
In a recent edition of Mike’s Kwik-Tip on Facebook, we recommended that you remove the timers off any hose bibs since a quick unexpected freeze will destroy the internal plastic parts. (In English please!) There is a fitting where a hose can be attached to a home water supply (usually more than one) so watering the lawn and garden is simplified. The part that the hose screws onto is called a hose bib. We received many “thank you”s for that tip, but now that we are in October, it’s time to go one better and it’s a 2 step process.
First, stretch out the hose(s) and remove any water just by rolling them up. This is extra easy if you have a hose reel.
Next, it’s not enough to simply shut the valve off where it’s sticking out of the basement and through the wall outside. You’ll need to go into your basement or crawl space and shut the pipe off at the valve inside the house. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a pipe which is split in the middle. (see an example on left)
Mike’s Winter Tip#2
Draining the hot water heater. Yes, we realize this is a terrible waste of both energy and water, BUT draining and rinsing the sediment that ends up on the bottom of the tank will extend the tank’s life and now’s the time to do it. NOTE: This may not be for every do-it-yourself homeowner since it requires turning off the natural gas and the water supply, then running a hose from the bottom of the tank until it’s empty, refill it again, draining it one more time, and one final refill. Then turn on the gas line and lighting the pilot light. If you have any misgivings about doing this, either skip this step or call Muccia Plumbing. While this will improve the tank’s operation and lifespan, we don’t want you to accidentally shorten your own. If your tank was installed in the last 2-3 years, you’ll be fine. If you’re not sure, look for the town inspection sticker. Their dates are usually easier to read than the manufacturers. If your tank is near end of life, be aware that Muccia only sells and installs Bradford White Made in the USA hot water heater tanks. For example, Bradford White fittings are all brass, not plastic and are guaranteed to provide you with years of excellent service.
Mike’s Winter Tip#3
Replace your rubber washing machine hoses. If your washer was installed by the company that sold it to you, they most likely used the rubber hoses that came with the machine. These hoses are holding back the full pressure of both hot and cold water until the washer timer calls for them to release their water supplies. They are OK for a year or two but living in NJ, we are subject to brutal hot days and frigid cold days, and those fluctuations in ambient temperature cause the hoses to fail. The standard for several years was braided stainless steel. Those held up better, but over time the stainless steel wrapping would also fail. We recommend the Danco Flood Anchor washing machine hoses. What’s great about these hoses is they have a ball bearing built into the connector at the water supply. No matter what happens to the hose, the ball bearing will prevent a flood by stopping the water from escaping the fitting. These are not cheap, and if you’re handy and can remove and replace the hoses, they are worth the price. You can sometimes find them at Sears or True Value. They come in a 6-foot length, so before you start taking things apart, make sure 6 feet will work for you or look for another brand. You can purchase them anywhere you wish. The Amazon ad example is simply that – an example.
Mike’s Winter Tip #4
Now it’s time for you to do a simple inspection. In one of our first blogs, we discussed what leaks or just water on the floor around your furnace or boiler may mean. There are three parts that can fail about 6-10 years into the life of a new boiler.
The first part is the boiler pressure relief valve. Here’s the exact explanation from the NJ Master Plumbing manual: A safety valve is a valve that acts as a fail-safe. An example of the safety valve is a pressure relief valve (PRV), which automatically releases a substance from a boiler, pressure vessel, or another system when the pressure or temperature exceeds preset limits.
This is what it looks like:
The second part is the water pressure relief valve: Again, from the Master Plumber manual: Back Pressure Valves. Back pressure valves are pressure relief valves used in pipes and pumps. They are essential in the plumbing industry. Their function is to maintain a set pressure, particularly at the pump’s outlet port or discharge, and doing so ensures correct metering. This is what it looks like:
The third and final part is an air expansion tank. Once again, directly from the plumbers manual: An expansion tank is a metal tank connected to a building’s water heating appliance designed to accommodate fluctuations in the volume of a building’s hot water supply system. These fluctuations occur because water expands in volume as it gets hot and loses volume as it cools.
NOTE: This should not be confused with the hot water tank. This is meant as a fit for a home that is running on a hot water system. The boiler heats the water, it is then pumped throughout the home raising the temperatures of the radiators. It is one of the more efficient means to heat a home since, after the hot water returns, the pipes retain their heat
The simplest way to test for a water leak is to put some paper towel on the floor and let it sit undisturbed overnight. If in the moning the paper is wet or simply feels of an unusual texture, please Muccia Plumbing at 201-778-7085