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Winterizing Outdoor Faucets

Most any Michigander can explain the importance of winterizing exterior faucets, but do you actually know how?  It seems like a simple task, but there are a few tricks to getting it right.

1.)  Disconnect the Garden Hose – Simple, drain and store the hose and any accessories in the garage or shed.

2.)  Inspect – check fixtures for leaks and drips.  Water dripping, no matter how slowly can freeze in the pipe or the fixture.  While a frozen outdoor faucet may not be apparent until the next season, it may be possible to minimize the damage by repairing the leak before the winter.

3.) Drain – Getting as much water out of the pipes is the second step to winterize outdoor faucets. If you have a hose bib that is not freeze proof the best way to do this is to shut off that line if possible and drain it down. If you cannot isolate the water supply to hose bib to shut it off be sure to use extra insulation in the next step.

For a frost free hose bib this step isn’t necessary since the fixture’s design (when properly installed) keeps water well back away from the end of the spigot. Just as with regular hose bibs, however, hoses and other attachments should be removed from frost free hose bibs before the winter or they may not drain down properly.

4.)  Protect – The last step to winterize outdoor faucets is to protect them with insulation. An easy way to do this is to install a hose bib cover on each outdoor fixture including frost free hose bibs. Hose bib covers are square or dome shaped to fit right over outdoor faucets. They are made of thick foam so they are quite effective at keeping most of the cold away from the valve. When covering regular hose bibs that could not be drained extra insulation can be installed inside the hose bib cover to keep it warm and dry throughout the winter. In most situations, however, the hose bib cover will provide enough insulation.
Although they are resistant to freezing, Frost free hose bibs should be covered as well because although they are resistant to freezing they are not completely frost proof in the coldest weather. There are rubber gaskets and washers inside the frost free hose bibs that will benefit from the extra protection from the cold that a hose bib cover can provide.
Hose bib covers can be found in most hardware or home improvement stores and are very inexpensive and easy to install. Covers can usually be reused for several years so they are a good long term purchase. For just a few dollars per fixture you can winterize outside faucets quickly and then move on to any other winterizing plumbing tasks that may be necessary.

Avoid Irrigation Irritation

Fall is the time to drain and winterize your irrigation system.  sprinkler-pop_up_headBuried irrigation lines can freeze, leaving you with burst pipes  and broken sprinkler heads.  A few simple steps can save you some spring time Irrigation Irritation.

  1. Using the main valve, turn off the water that feeds the system.
  2. Turn off the automatic controller
  3. Remove water from the system by opening the drain valves.
  4. Remove above-ground sprinkler heads, shake any remaining water out and replace them.

Perhaps you don’t have drain valves or are unfamiliar with the system – Hire an irrigation professional to use an air compressor to blow out the system.  The $75-$150 charge is worth making sure the job is done right and not having repairs to make in the spring.

Don’t Let Water Drip

garden-hoseDripping Water is almost never a good thing.  Fall preparations must include removal of garden hoses from outdoor faucets.   Don’t get caught by a sudden cold snap and have surprise damage – make this one a priority!  Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the pipes inside the exterior walls.  When the colder temps arrive, the water left behind could freeze, expand and crack the faucet or pipes.

Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.   Don’t forget to drain those hoses and store them in the garage or outdoor storage shed.

Side Note: Crawl Space

Wood + Water = BAD NEWS

Exposed earth contributes a lot of water vapor into the crawl space air.  The earth is damp and as that damp soil dries into the house.  In climates where there are dirt crawl spaces, you can never dry the earth, and this invisible stream of water vapor from the exposed earth in a crawl spaces continues forever.

There are several ways water gets into a house.  Groundwater seeps, leaks or could even rush into many crawl spaces.  It can enter under the footing, between the footing and the walls, right through block walls, and through cracks in poured walls.  After it seeps in, it just lays there in puddles, slowly evaporating upward into the house.

Some of the common symptoms of a crawl space moisture problem are:

  • Mold or moisture damage in the crawl space or living area
  • Musty odors in the living area
  • Condensation (“sweating”) on air conditioning duct work or equipment
  • Condensation on insulation, water pipes or truss plates in the crawl space
  • Buckled hardwood floors
  • High humidity in the living area
  • Insect infestations
  • Rot in wooden framing members

These symptoms are most often noticed in the humid spring and summer seasons but can occur at any time of the year. Often, the heating and air conditioning contractor is the first person the residents call to deal with the problem. Typically though, the problem is not due to a failure of the air conditioning system; it results from poor moisture control in the crawl space.

Keep up with our Side Note Series for more information on crawl spaces and how to maintain them.

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Just Add Water

In this week’s Side Note, we switch gears from basements to crawl spaces. Since air flows upward into the upper levels of your home from the crawl space, it brings the humidity from the crawl space with it. The effects on your home include:

  • Dust Mites
  • Sticking (swollen) doors and windows
  • Smelly, Damp Carpets
  • Buckling hardwood floors
  • Frost or Condensation and mold on the inside of windows in cool weather
  • Increased energy bills

While damage in the crawl space itself can be obvious, the list above represents many of the effects that can happen UPSTAIRS that you may not associate with your wet or damp crawl space.

Fixing your crawl space is one home repair expense that you can’t afford not to make.

Keep up with our Side Note Series for more information on maintenance and repairs to your crawl space.

 

Side Note: Basement Waterproofing – Inside Strategies

In previous posts we’ve covered a few exterior options to protect your basement.  Now let’s review what options you have inside!  By installing a drainage system around the inside of the basement along the wall, you can capture water at the most common point of entry – the floor/wall joint.  Capturing water from the walls can prevent the center of the floor from leaking by intercepting the water at the perimeter.

There are advantages to an interior drainage system.

  1. Accessibility
  2. Affordability
  3. Quick Installation
  4. Serviceable
  5. IT WORKS!

Even in basements that are already finished, it is still much easier to waterproof from the inside than the outside.  Most Full-Time basement waterproofing companies offer interior drainage systems – – – each with their differences. Watch for our next Side Note where we cover the different interior waterproofing options.

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Outer Limits

By now we’ve learned that there are two types of basements – the ones that already leak and the ones that will eventually leak.  If the soil around the foundation of your home is pitched toward the foundation, it is a good idea to change the grade by adding dirt so that the soil slopes away.  Do not use sand or mulch which may absorb and hold water rather than water flowing away.  Don’t rely on grading alone to protect your foundation and keep your basement dry.

Try to keep any added dirt or additional landscaping 4″ below any siding.  If the siding is close or touching the soils it may rot, creating a new set of issues.  Proper grading as well as the proper use of gutters and downspouts will be a great help to your overall dry basement project.  Don’t rely on clean gutters alone to keep your basement dry.

Join us for more basement waterproofing facts as we continue our Side Note Series on Basements!

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Dry Basement

Buyers expect a dry basement.  No one wants to buy a home with a wet basement.  These days most states have disclosure forms that would require the seller to details a series of questions about the property…one of which is water in the basement.  Home inspectors are trained to find this sort of defect during a standard inspection.  A keen eyewall-floor-joint-basement-water1 for moisture problems can save you time and money.

There’s simply no way to hide a wet basement.  Buyers will often view a wet basement as a “Fixer-Upper” and lower their offer…sometimes up to 10%.  On a $150,000 house, that’s $15,000!  The moral of the story – – Fixing your wet basement is a lot cheaper than not fixing it.

Stay tuned for more information on basement waterproofing!

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Basement Space

Build-a-Basement-DesignEven though it may not be counted in the actual square footage of your home, your basement is VALUABLE space!  What can you do with your basement?  How about a Playroom for the kids, a Party Room or Family Room?  A home gym to keep you fit and healthy, or maybe a craft room for your creative side?  All of this and more could be possible.

You’re not going to finish your basement you say?  Even an unfinished basement is valuable space.  All the “stuff” that you would normally put into a dry, unfinished basement is now taking up finished space.  It’s crammed into the closets, the spare room, and the garage.  Taking some simple steps to drying and waterproofing your basement, you can move all that “stuff” downstairs and reclaim your finished space.

Keep up with our new series Side Note for more great basement information.

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Radon Gas & Waterproofing

Radon Gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from radium deposits in the earth’s crust.  If present in the soil under your home, it can get sucked into your house via the basement or crawl space.

DON’T PANIC!  It’s fairly common and easy to get rid of.

Some people that know “a little”, think that basement waterproofing systems and radon mitigation systems are incompatible.  While it is true that gaps, cracks and hols in the basement floor and walls need to be sealed as part of the strategy to get rid of Radon, this can be done without compromising the waterproofing system.

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky