Weather patterns in Australia are a little different from the bulk of Western countries. We’re in the southern hemisphere, so our seasons ‘oppose’ of seasons in Europe and the US. Then, our climate is largely temperate, so sunshine year round and no snow in most parts of the country. We do have a few ski resorts, and we get a decent amount of snow in parts of Tasmania and the mountainous regions of New South Wales. They’re popular spots for ‘Christmas in July’ celebrations, complete with snowmen.
In the north, weather patterns are tropical, so there’s a dry season from May to October and a wet season from November to April, and the tips face monsoon conditions, with lots of forestry and savannah. In central Australia, some regions experience desert climates, and in most parts of Australia, the weather is warm and pleasant, with relatively low rainfall. Winter coincides with Summer in most of the western world, while December is high summer for us.
In many parts of the nation, winter means temperatures of 10°C to 20°C while summer is hot and humid with February showers. We also have lots of beaches, a massive shoreline and multiple inland lakes, so a good part of the populated nation exhibits beach-time weather and lifestyles. These outdoor conditions do play a role in your plumbing, so let’s look at some of the issues you might deal with as the seasons go by.
Winter – June to August
Winter is the coldest time of year, but except for the snow belts, temperatures stay safely above10°Cin most parts of Australia. You may need a few scarves and jackets and might consider buying a heater or revamping your fireplace, but the weather is tolerable, so your car won’t need anti-freeze and your pool can probably stay open. Look out for kitchen condensation though. Be extra vigilant with greasy foods and the garbage disposal, because the congealed food fats could plug pipes and sewers more easily due to lower temperatures.
Prep your garbage disposal before and after use by running cold water through it for about 15 seconds. This clears anything stuck on the sides, and solidifies any oil or grease, making it easier for the hot dishwater to force them down. In snowy areas, insulate pipes to prevent them from freezing over. The real damage comes from water frozen inside the pipes because the ice can expand explosively. Shut the water supply to external taps, and cover the outside pipes with wraps and sleeves designed for this purpose.
For regular weather zones, wait ten minutes between showers, to retain water pressure (cold weather may make it sluggish). Adjust the thermostat on your heater so the water gets slightly hotter and keeps the pipes warmed up. Low shower pressure could be caused by clogged shower heads. Soak overnight in a plastic bag filled with vinegar. Hold the bag in place with string or elastic bands.
Spring and Summer – September through February
As the weather warms up in the spring, we’re all eager to shed our layers and show some skin, which means lots of washing and shaving that we may have avoided during the cold season. Buy a new set of strainers for your drains, to keep hair out. Check the pipes and appliances for any winter damage, repairing leaks and cracks. Clear out blocked drains that may have accumulated leaves or nesting pests.
Thoroughly clean any residue in your washing machine or dishwasher. For the summer, do an overall home inspection. Specifically, you want to deal with deposits of rust, calcium, and other minerals in the pipes. You also want to spot any water damage. Clear puddles that can host breeding insects.
Fall – March and May
In the fall, temperatures start to slip downwards, and in most parts of the world, it’s a harbinger to winter snow. Plumbers therefore advise you to prepare for freezing temperatures that can burst your pipes. In Australia, this isn’t an issue except in ski zones like Thredbo, Perisher (NSW) Hotham, or Falls Creek (Victoria). In these places, you’d need to check for leaks and drips, and repair them now. If you wait for snowfall, the expanding ice could do far more (expensive) damage.
Wherever you live, the shedding leaves of fall can cause clogs and blockages, so bring in a roof plumber to clear your drainages, clean your gutters, and prune any branches that risk damaging your awnings. Rake leaves regularly to avoid attracting insects and pests that can make their way into the house. If you have any outdoor taps, you could shut off their supply and disconnect your hoses. Inside, flush out your water heaters and tanks, getting rid of sediment and build up. Adjust the thermostat too, and check that the heater valves are intact.