Winter is quickly approaching, and now is the time to be proactive when preparing your home’s plumbing for freezing and sub-freezing temperatures. This is especially true if you’re going to be away all season or on an extended holiday.
Water expands when it freezes, and a cracked or busted pipe can result in quite a nightmare for homeowners. Whether you’re home for the holidays or gone for good until warm weather returns, take the following measures to avoid the horror of frozen plumbing:
1. Insulate Your Pipes
Pipes exposed to frigid temperatures are at a high risk of freezing. The risk is greatest when temperatures fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Frozen pipes can burst open or crack, potentially causing water damage and the growth of unhealthy mold. This situation can leave you without fresh running water until the problem is fixed.
Contractors who build newer homes usually take steps to protect pipes from extreme temperatures in their construction plans. However, if you have an older home, you should consider insulating pipes and using heating cables as a high priority to prevent problems. This is especially true in places like crawl spaces, attics, and the garage.
2. Fix Exterior Cracks in the Walls
Before winter brings in its freezing temperatures, inspect the exterior of your home for cracks or holes. Fixing the problem will help keep the frigid air from getting to your pipes. As a bonus, you’ll stay warmer and lower your energy costs. Caulking or spray foam insulation can be used efficiently to fill these imperfections. You can consult a handyman or subcontractor for help.
3. Seal Your Crawl Space
If you have a pier or beam home with a ventilated crawl space, it should be sealed off before cold weather sets in. Vents can be covered with pieces of heavy-duty cardboard duct-taped into place. Any existing basement windows should be inspected for cracks that could let cold air in near pipes. Be sure to have any cracked panes replaced.
4. Drip Faucets on Cold Nights
On particularly frigid nights, let your faucets drip overnight. This is especially helpful for the faucets that are along the exterior walls. This practice will help eliminate much of the pressure inside the pipes. Even if they freeze, your pipes will be less likely to burst or crack. This can be done in conjunction with insulating the pipes for extraordinarily cold nights.
5. Open Lower Cabinets
The small act of opening the doors of your lower cabinets below the sinks in your kitchen and bathroom can help keep pipes from freezing. This process allows warm air to enter the area that surrounds these pipes. If you tend to keep cleaning agents, chemicals, or medication in cabinets underneath the sinks, move them to a higher cabinet for the entire season so that you have ample air flow.
6. Avoid a House That Is Too Cold
Always keep the heat on in your home in the winter months. If you’re going to be away from home, you may be tempted to turn it off to save on your energy bill. You should avoid doing this for even one night. The money you will save won’t come close to the cost of repairing the damage a pipe burst can cause. If you travel over the holidays, set the thermostat to at least 55 degrees while you’re gone.
7. Disconnect and Drain Exterior Water Sources
Once the need to water your lawn or garden ends for the season, it’s time to winterize outside. Disconnect your hose and drain out any existing water. For extra precaution against frozen water in the pipes, turn off the water supply to the outdoor faucet and drain out any water that is remaining.
If you have a sprinkler system, it will also need to be drained. Most companies that install sprinkler systems offer maintenance services to come out and perform this task for you.
8. Winterize Your Plumbing
If you’re going to be gone for the entire winter, there are some additional steps you should take to winterize your plumbing system. All water must be drained from the pipes, water heater, and toilets. There are products that you can use in various fixtures that will prevent freezing. Neglecting these tasks could result in catastrophic water damage. Call OnTIME Service for help with winterizing your plumbing.
At OnTIME Service, we have expert plumbers who can assist you with winterizing your home’s plumbing. Whether you want help with pipe insulation, de-thawing, or need your pipes repaired, give us a call for fast, reliable service at a fair price. We also offer heating and cooling services, indoor air quality assessments, and geothermal services in the Henderson area.