Let's face it – fall gets busy! The holidays are right around the corner, football is in full swing, kids are back in school, and everyone is outside trying to enjoy that last bit of crisp air before the winter comes. While you're making your list of things to do, one task that needs to be added is winterizing your plumbing. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Why you need to winterize your plumbing
When pipes are unprotected in freezing temperatures, some very expensive damage can occur. Pipes can burst for different reasons such as the expansion that occurs when the water freezes inside it, or water build up that ice blockages and closed faucets create, leaving the water nowhere to exit. However, no matter how it happens, the best rule of thumb is to be proactive and protect your pipes before the freezing temperatures arrive.
Steps you can take to protect your pipes
Step 1 – Use fiberglass or polyethylene insulation tubes around your pipes. Wrap any pipes that are exposed to the winter temperatures with the tube of insulation. Pipes in crawl spaces, in an unheated garage, and inside cabinets have the biggest risk of freezing. There is also heat-tape you can use that is specifically made to help with the insulation process.
Step 2 – Make sure you don't have exterior cracks. Fall is a good time to walk the foundation and make sure that you don't have cracks in your home that can let cold air in. If you see any, simply caulk the area until the crack is filled.
Step 3 –Turn your faucets on. If you expect to have an exceptionally cold day or night, then you can allow your faucet to release a slow drip steadily. If freezing does occur, then the excess water that builds up will have somewhere to go. While this won't always prevent a pipe from bursting, it gives you better odds against it.
Step 4 – Open and heat closed off areas. When you know a big freeze is coming then you can open up cabinets under sinks to let warm air reach them. You can also invest in a small heater for your garage for the harshest temperatures. Just be sure you follow all heater safety recommendations.
What to do (and not to do) if your pipes freeze
If your home does suffer from a frozen pipe be sure you DON’T use an open flame to thaw the area. Be cautious in using a hair dryer or space heater to avoid getting burned or electrocuted.
DO locate your main water valve and shut it off. Leave the faucets open and be patient. Allow warmer temperatures to thaw the water, and when you turn the water on, do your best to locate where the pipe froze. Even if the pipe didn't burst, it might be weakened from the freeze, and you might not be as lucky next time.
Correct the problem area to strengthen the pipe and follow the steps listed above. When in doubt, call the SSI plumbing team to winterize your plumbing and guide you in the right direction to protect your home.