Tips for Preparing Your Pipes for Winter & Avoid Freezing
Like the famous “Game of Thrones” line, winter is coming and the cold is starting to become heavier by the day. Not only should you have your coat on, but you’ll also need to prep your water supply before it becomes ice as science taught us that water expands when it freezes and becomes ice.
A frozen pipe means a ton of pressure in the pipe which can cause it to burst and create serious flooding in the area. Not to mention the damage caused by this incident can cost thousands of dollars. Also, the winter weather brings us to the holiday season and adds extra stress if you have guests over with completely frozen pipes.
The ultimate prevention against freezing pipes is to have the area be warm enough that the temperature wouldn’t stay below freezing point. Also, there are other maintenance tips to prepare your pipes for the winter. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you manage your pipes in the winter and prepare for winterization.
Have Your Water Heater Checked
This is the season where you should have your water heater checked by a professional to make sure it won’t give up on you in the cold weather. The plumber would need to drain the water as hot water can cool down in the pipes and sit there to freeze in the winter.
Check Your Water Valves and Pipes for Insulation
One way to prepare your pipes is to turn off the outside water valves. Experts say that when the temperature drops below the freezing point, it is possible to have ruptured water pipes. Make sure to turn off every outside water valve, and open the bleeder cap on the shutoff valve to drain the water.
You can also let your faucets drip overnight when the temperature drops, as this will help decrease the pressure build-up in your home’s pipes. Allowing the faucet to drip can keep your pipes from bursting and encourage water flow. If you have hot and cold water pipes, you can open both faucet taps a bit. Disconnect all hoses from the faucets as well, whether inside or outside your house and drain them to prevent cracking.
In addition, preparing your pipes for the winter means purchasing a thick layer of insulation if you have uninsulated pipes inside or outside your house. Most insulating tubes are made of polyethylene or fibreglass and are accessible for purchase through a hardware store or on the internet. You can do this by yourself or call a plumbing service to ensure better wrapping and a clearer diagnosis of your pipes.
Get Those Cracks and Leaks Fixed
Take a look outside of your house and see if there are any gaps or cracks on the walls. Check for your floors if there are any as well as pipes run through floors and walls. Those cracks let in cold air and it can cool the pipes even more. This is the simplest measure to winterize your pipes. Rim joists are also likely to let in cold air, and you can insulate these using expandable foam. Once you locate those cracks and holes, just use a caulking or spray foam insulation to fill the gaps.
Not only do your walls need checking, but pipe leaks also need some tending to. Any existing leaks have to be repaired. Open those cabinets under the sink in your home, and check. Every leak is a weak spot and it can cause problems for your home’s system once the winter temperature kicks in. Take note that it can also be quite expensive to get it fixed and highly inconvenient. Make sure to call a professional to get the job done and save yourself some time and money.
Pro tip: Go for heating tapes
If you don’t know what heating tapes are, these work like blankets for your pipes and directly supply heat to keep it warm. There are two kinds of tape: the automatic heating tape, which turns on and off by itself, and the manual heating tape, which needs to be plugged in if heat is needed and does not have a switch.
Read through the instructions carefully and follow them step-by-step as these can be dangerous and might cause house fires.
Travel Without Any Worries
The holiday season entails travelling to other places with your family and friends, and if you have an itinerary planned, you wouldn’t want to come home with a burst pipe and a wrecked area in your home. Make sure that this doesn’t happen as it can lead to expensive and serious damage.
Before shutting off the main water valve completely, you can drain your pipes first, or you can leave the water on with the heater set to a high temperature to keep it warm. The temperature does not need to be too high, however, it can be set above 50 F to provide enough heat. If you have someone to watch your house for you, inform them to keep the heat on to prevent the pipes from freezing.
Also, if you are taking your car with you and you have water lines in your garage, insulate the garage door or install a portable heater in the garage. Properly seal your windows and doors to keep the cold air outside and from seeping through open areas in your house so the pipes in your garage can stay warm.
Pro Tip: Remember Your Hose Bibs
These are often left forgotten and might burst without you even knowing it. Remember to drain your hose bibs and insulate them with covers before deactivating them.
These are only a few tips to help you prepare your plumbing for winter effectively and efficiently. If you can do it yourself, do it as soon as possible to save you some time and effort in the holidays. However, if you wish to have someone else take a look at your home’s pipes, don’t hesitate to call up a plumbing service.