Each winter, many homeowners face the expense and inconvenience of frozen water pipes. Because lawns will be going dormant as the weather turns from fall to winter, this is a good time to go ahead and take precautions. Monitor the weather—and specifically freezing temperatures—to be sure you winterize to protect your pipes.
Why Is Pipe Freezing a Problem?
Water expands as it freezes. This expansion puts pressure on whatever is containing it, including plastic and metal pipes. No matter the strength, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines and water supply pipes in in unheated interior areas. Also, pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are subject to freezing.
To avoid frozen pipes and repair costs, take precautions:
Outside Your Home:
Shut off and drain your irrigation system. This may seem obvious, but sometimes people assume that their landscaper or lawn maintenance company has done it for them. This task only takes a few minutes and can save you hundreds of dollars in repair costs and water bills.
A single, hard overnight freeze can burst either the pipe or the faucet. Often, a spigots lines freeze over the winter and are not found until you notices a high bill in the summer (from hose use) is the broken pipe found.
If you have a swimming pool, contact a local swimming pool professional to get advice on how to best prepare for the weather in your area. You can contact our office if you do not have a regular pool service provider and we are happy to refer one of our preferred vendors to you.
Inside Your Home:
Insulate pipes or faucets in unheated areas. If you have water pipes in an unheated garage or crawl space under the house, wrap them before temperatures plummet. Hardware or building supply stores offer appropriate pipe wrapping materials.
Seal off access doors, air vents and cracks. Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage. Know the location of your master water shutoff valve. In many homes it’s where the water line comes into your house from the street. If a pipe bursts anywhere in the house — kitchen, bath, basement or crawl space — this valve turns off all water and will save your home from damage. So, find it now and paint it a bright color or hang a tag on it. Be sure everyone in the family knows where it is and what it does.
Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of reach of children.
Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use during lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if the pipes burst.
If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF. The main point is to be prepared BEFORE the cold weather sets in. No one wants the unwelcome surprise of broken pipes.
Remember to call me should you need a referral for a good vendor for all of your home maintenance and improvement needs!