WinterizingA little preparation may prevent a water leak during the winter months!
Winterizing is a process that prepares household plumbing for freezing temperatures that can cause leaks and breaks in the home. When water freezes it expands as it becomes ice. This expansion causes pressure within the pipes, which causes damage.
For more information on how to winterize your pipes click here.
For tips on how to thaw a frozen pipe click here.
How to Prevent Freezing Pipes
Anywhere cold air blows on a pipe, it creates the potential for freezing. To make sure your pipes are well-insulated, close crawl space vents and stuff insulation over the openings. Even a tiny hole can let a lot of cold air blow in; make sure you fill in all the cracks.
A bathroom or laundry room located above or next to a garage can be particularly vulnerable, so keep the garage door closed to maintain maximum heat.
If your bathroom pipes run along an outside exterior wall, try keeping the vanity door(s) open to allow heat inside. If you’re anticipating a deep freeze, consider using a fan to help circulate the air near the pipes, or purchase a small space heater for some extra temporary heat.
Finally, never turn off the heat when you leave home during the winter. Instead, set the temperature to at least 55 degrees F (higher if you’ve had problems in the past or live in an area of extreme cold). If you have multiple heat zones, be sure to adjust all thermostats appropriately.
It is also important to check for any cracks or openings in walls, floors, and ceilings. If you find holes during your inspection, caulk them to keep cold air from entering those gaps.
Be sure to follow these tips:
• Insulate pipes with insulation sleeves, wrapping or using slip-on foam pipe insulation. Do not leave any gaps without insulation as cold air can affect the pipe in these spaces. Plastic piping is more tolerant of freezing than old copper or steel water pipes.
• Inspect the exterior of the property, making sure that all visible cracks are sealed. Cold air can enter through the cracks and, once inside, it will cause your pipe to freeze. If visible cracks are noticed, seal them using caulking or spray foam to fill the voids.
• Maintain a heating source inside the building to protect pipes against cold.
You can also keep a faucet dripping, allowing the water to move freely and continuously, preventing it from freezing.
• Make sure the crawl space is properly insulated. Block all vents that lead to the outside using cardboard or wood.
Outside your home
• Don't forget the hose bibs. Hose bibs are normally left unattended, causing them to burst in the middle of the night. Disconnect any hoses and drain them for winter storage. Remove splitters or any other items from faucets.
• Every faucet should have a shutoff valve inside your home or garage.
Locate the shut-off valves for each faucet and shut the water off. Then turn on all faucets to drain any water left in them. If the water continues to flow, check the valve to make sure it is off. Leave the faucet handle turned on throughout the winter.
• Use heat tape to protect pipes from freezing. Heat tape is one of the preferred methods for winterizing plumbing but be aware that these might bring additional hazards. The U.S. CPSC has provided safety recommendations for homeowners using heat tapes to help prevent fires. Be sure to follow manufacturers directions to wrap the pipe.
• Turn off your sprinkler system. Most landscapes will be fine without additional water in the winter. If your landscape does need a little extra water, be sure to wait for the outside temperatures to warm up before turning on your irrigation.
• Know where your main water shut-off is before a problem arises. Most customers will have a courtesy shutoff valve in their meter box, which is located near the curb.