With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, you likely looked at your house with new eyes and, like so many Chicagoland homeowners, went into a frenzy of home improvement. New paint, new plants, new pictures. But before you settle into your newly designed home office and wait for the first snowflakes to appear, you need to consider some proactive maintenance on your plumbing system.


Are your garden hoses still connected to your outdoor faucets? Outdoor water remaining in exposed hoses can freeze, expand, and damage the faucets. Disconnect and drain the hoses before properly storing them indoors. 

Inspect your outside faucets and pipes for any leaks and repair them now. Drain the exterior lines of any water. Turn off water at the shut-off valve, and for additional protection, insulate your exterior faucets using kits available at your local home improvement store.


Make certain you are current with maintenance on your HVAC system. Test the system to ensure the thermostat is properly controlling the temperature in your home. Install a clean filter in preparation for the cold weather.

Look for signs of rust, exterior leakage, or scale on or around the tank, and test to ensure the pressure relief valve is operational. Then drain the sediment from the bottom of the tank. To avoid creating a leak when testing the valve or if you see leakage at the tank, consider asking a licensed plumber to test the valve for you and fix any possible leaks.

After removing the pump from the sump, clean both the pump and the sump. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and grease the pump bearings before returning the pump to the sump basin. Pour water into the sump and ensure the pump automatically activates when the float rises. 

Insulated pipes may yet freeze, but by insulating your water pipes, you can prevent heat loss; water flowing through insulated pipes stays 2° – 4°F warmer than pipes without insulation. As a great DIY project, you can purchase self-adhesive insulation and easily insulate the pipes yourself.