As you prepare for the cold winter months, don’t overlook preparing your pipes for winter. Remember, water expands when it’s frozen. When this happens, even if it’s just for a short period of time, you end up running the risk of a pipe fracturing or even worse. The following steps can help you avoid a major plumbing problem during the winter months.
Look for Vulnerable Pipes, Inside and Out
Look for pipes that are most vulnerable to freezing. Some examples of pipe’s most likely to freeze include pipes located near windows and outside walls, uninsulated pipes, and pipes that are installed in close proximity to unheated spaces.
Winterizing the Pipes in Your Home
Make sure the pipes in your home are well-insulated, starting with closing any crawl space vents and padding openings with insulation. Make sure to cover any cracks because even a little hole can let a lot of cold air in. These same tiny holes also let in insects, etc. Laundry rooms or bathrooms located next to, or above a garage are especially vulnerable to freezing temperatures. So, make it a habit to keep the garage door closed to preserve heat. If your area is experiencing a deep freeze, use a fan to circulate the air near the pipes, or invest in a small space heater for some short-term heat. It’s also a good idea to keep a faucet dripping, letting the water move continuously to keep it from freezing.
Winterize Outdoor Pipes
Look over the outdoor areas of the property to make sure any visible cracks are well sealed. Cracks in pipes allow in frigid air that can cause them to freeze. If you find any cracks, seal them using spray foam or caulking to fill the voids. To avoid frozen pipes, you should also disconnect and place the garden hoses in a warm area like the garage. If your property has a separate shut-off for outdoor faucets, shut it off and drain the water from the faucets. If you have a sprinkler system, you’ll want to turn it off too and drain it. A broken sprinkler pipe will cause a lot of damage to the fragile elements that comprise the entire system, increasing plumbing repair costs. You may want to consider contacting a professional plumber to do a thorough inspection and make any necessary adjustments or repairs.
Keep the Heat on While You’re Away
Keep the heat on indoors while you’re away, to help protect the pipes from the cold, setting the temperature to a minimum of 55 degrees (higher if you live in a region of extremely cold weather).
Know Where the Main Waterline Shut Off Is
Before problems arise, make sure you know (and others in the household) where the main waterline shut-off is. Depending on how old the home is, the waterline shut off could be in the basement, laundry room, garage or underground in the yard. Once you’ve turned the water off, turn on the indoor and outdoor faucets to let the water drain and release the pressure in the pipes.
Take care of any potential plumbing problems before the holidays. Call a professional, licensed plumber and ask them about winterizing your home, and get the job done right.