Winter is just around the corner, so it is an ideal time to prepare your plumbing for the cold. The winter weather can be hard on your plumbing. It is best to ensure it is properly winterized to prevent any unwanted and stressful disasters. Frozen pipes are a major risk during the cold weather, and it is most definitely an event that you want to avoid at all costs. If a pipe bursts due to freezing, it can potentially leak thousands of gallons of water into your home. If this happens, it is certainly an emergency and can create thousands of dollars’ worth of damage and repair costs. However, there are several things that you can do to help prevent this from happening to you.
Shut Off and Drain Your Outdoor Faucets
This is one of the most important steps to take to protect your pipes. Remove any hoses connected to your outdoor faucets and drain and store them away for the winter. Shut off the water supply to the outdoor spigot and drain out all the access water. Any water left inside the pipe can freeze and cause it to crack or burst. For some extra protection, you can add additional insulation to the outdoor faucet.
Insulate Pipes in Unheated or Poorly Heated Areas
Water pipes that are in areas of your home that are unheated or are heated poorly should be given special care since they are much more at risk of freezing. These can be areas such as the garage, attic, utility room and crawlspace. You can get insulation from the hardware store that is easy to install. Tape-backed insulation can be used which can be rolled around the pipes or you may use foam insulation that can be slipped over the exposed pipe.
Seal and Insulate Drafts
It is ideal to winterize your entire home as this will help to save on your heating expenses, but it is especially important to seal and insulate any drafts that are close to pipes and plumbing fixtures. Carefully check for drafts and seal them with caulking. You may even wish to add some additional insulation to colder, draftier areas like the basement, garage, and attic to help keep in the heat.
Keep the Heat at 55F
It is necessary to always keep your thermostat at a minimum of 55F during the winter months. Heating bills can be pricey, especially with the rising costs of natural gas this year so it may be tempting to turn the heat down when you are not at home, however, this is a risky chance to take. Areas of your home that tend to be cooler and are not as well insulated can reach freezing temperatures which can result in frozen pipes.
Have Your Furnace Inspected
Although your furnace is not a part of your plumbing, it is essential to the wellbeing of your pipes during the wintertime. Having your furnace inspected to ensure that it is in good working order will reduce the chance of a breakdown in the cold weather. During cold weather the temperature can drop quite quickly if the furnace seizes working. This would put your pipes at risk, especially in colder areas of the home.
Additional Measures to Take During Abnormally Cold Temperatures
Occasionally we get a real cold spell where the temperatures are a lot colder than normal. When this happens there are some extra steps you can take to help protect your pipes. One way is to leave your taps running. This does not mean you need to have to have your taps on full blast, but just letting water trickle out in a small stream will help to prevent freezing. This is because running water is much less likely to freeze.
Another step you can take when in an uncommonly cold snap is to leave your cabinet doors open underneath your sinks. This will allow the warmer air to circulate underneath and keep the pipes warmer. It can also be a good practice to keep the temperature of your home slightly warmer than the usually recommended 55F in particularly cold weather.
Following these suggestions will greatly reduce the risk of an emergency due to frozen pipes. Do not put your home at risk! Now is the time to begin your winter preparations!