Cold winter weather is invigorating. The air is crisp and clear, and icicles hanging from tree branches create a winter wonderland. At night, you’re curled up inside in front of the fireplace, and worrying about plumbing problems is the furthest thing from your mind — until the pipes burst. Here are five tips to help you protect your plumbing from potential damage caused by freezing temperatures.
1. Leave the Heat On
When the temperatures drop below freezing, don’t turn the heat off, even if you leave for a day or two. You want it warm enough inside to prevent the pipes from freezing. Open under-the-sink cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathrooms so that the exposed pipes can take full advantage of the warm rooms.
2. Insulate the Pipes
Go to your local hardware store and purchase heat tape or some other type of insulation. Follow the directions and ensure that the entire exposed area is securely covered. Pay particular attention to the pipes located in unheated areas. Attics, basements, crawlspaces, and garages all need attention. Don’t forget to wrap the hot water tank pipes if the appliance is in your garage or basement.
3. Disconnect Hoses
Don’t forget to prepare your outdoor pipes, too. These are particularly vulnerable since they have no protection from the elements. Disconnect and store your garden hoses. If you fail to do this, any remaining water in the hose could freeze, expand, and burst the hose. Wrap the faucet with insulation after you remove the hose.
4. Turn Outside Valves Off
You want to ensure that no water remains in your outdoor pipes. You can accomplish this by following this three-step process:
- Locate the main water shutoff valve and turn it off.
- Open all your outdoor faucets and let them run dry.
- Turn the main water line back on.
Once you’ve finished this, wrap the outdoor faucets with insulating material.
5. Let One Faucet Drip
When the weather forecast calls for freezing temperatures, keep one cold water tap dripping. A fixture in the back of the house works best because water usually enters the home from the front. The increased distance from the source keeps water flowing through the entire system. This technique is beneficial for two reasons. Flowing water is less likely to freeze than stagnant water, and the constant dripping relieves any pressure that might be building up in the system due to an undetected ice blockage.
Start preparing your pipes now before the weather gets colder. If you need help insulating your pipes or you believe you might have a burst pipe, contact Almighty Plumbing in Antioch, CA right away.