Prepare Your Pipes This Winter

Last week on the blog, we discussed helpful tips to winterize your home in all areas. We briefly touched on how to prepare your plumbing, but wanted to dedicate a whole blog to answer common questions, provide insight, and offer helpful tips so you can winterize your pipes.

Why Winterize?

When water freezes, it expands, creating problems for sitting water in pipes and small areas. Once water ices over, it will quickly cause breaks and leaks in your pipes that will show up in full force later. Even more, ice must melt, which means your plumbing and your home will experience an influx of water and harsh weather conditions that can be extremely damaging.

Where Do I Start?

As previously mentioned, it’s important to have a plan and a list when you begin to winterize your pipes. Create a checklist of your home’s plumbing parts, like taps and valves, then follow these steps and check them off as you go.

  1. Turn off the valve for the main water, then shut off the pump and water heater to protect heating elements while there’s no water inside.
  2. Go to each drain valve and tap and open them, checking them off on your list to ensure you did them all. Vacuums are oftentimes created when a tap is closed, which then holds water in pipes. If you’re not home, all valves and taps should remain open through the winter.
  3. Blow extra water out of pipes with compressed air.
  4. Drain your hot water tank until it’s empty. Some tanks don’t have floor drains, so you may need to connect a hose to it to safely remove all water inside.
  5. If there’s water left in the holding tank, make sure to drain it. Especially if it’s in the rubber diaphragm which is used with the tank to build pressure. You can also add antifreeze to the jet pump case as an additional protective measure.
  6. Flush all toilets to remove as much water as possible from bowls and tanks. If there’s water leftover, add antifreeze to prevent water from freezing and cracking the toilet.
  7. Check drains on sinks and tubs that may have drain traps. Add antifreeze to prevent cracks if ice forms.

What’s Next?

Winterizing your pipes is the most essential part of the process, but you can take additional steps to prevent freezing pipes as well. By doing a final walkthrough to identify potential problem areas with your plumbing, you can stay ahead of the game and avoid damage to exposed areas.

Keep an eye out for pipes that are in danger zones – they may be near unheated spaces, outside walls and windows, or could just be uninsulated. Cracks and openings in floors, walls, and ceilings could also pose problems by dropping temperatures by letting freezing air in your home. Seal up any openings to keep your home’s interior warmer.

Most fixes are very easy and can be done without professional help. Here are some helpful tips:

  1. Add insulation sleeves to pipes by wrapping or using slip-on foam pipe insulation to create an extra barrier against elements. Copper and steel pipes are more likely to freeze and crack than plastic pipes, so make sure you don’t leave gaps on the pipe without insulation for best results.
  2. Seal exterior holes or cracks to keep interior pipes from freezing in your home. You can use caulking or spray foam to easily fill empty spaces.
  3. Having a heating source inside your home will help protect pipes against icy temps
  4. Keep a faucet dripping to let water move freely and continuously. This will protect it from freezing.
  5. Crawl spaces should be well insulated, with all exterior facing vents blocked off. You can use cardboard or wood as a barrier.
  6. Hose bibs should be checked and drained. Oftentimes left unattended, they are known to expand and break during the middle of the night. Add covers, drain the bibs, and shutoff the valve to turn them off.
  7. Heat tape is a great way to protect pipes from freezing and is a standard method for winterizing plumbing, but be aware of safety recommendations that help protect you from fire hazards.

We hope this blog was informational while you work to winterize your homes and properties. We are passionate about providing our customers with the essential knowledge they need to take control of their lives and make smart decisions about their home’s water systems. As the holidays quickly approach, we urge you to prioritize your family by taking care of winterizing your property now! Contact our friendly team of trained professionals at Advanced Water Solutions if you have any questions or concerns. We’re here to help.

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