Winter will soon be here. That means wonderlands of snow, ice, and low, low temperatures. The winter months can be ones of fun-- especially for those who love the outdoors. But they can also bring plumbing and heating problems that have the potential to become uncomfortable and costly.
When pipes freeze-- a common occurrence in the winter-- homeowners are sometimes caught off-guard, which can lead to expensive mistakes. Make sure that you know what to do if you find yourself with frozen plumbing.
Water expands as it freezes. That means that freezing water puts pressure on your pipes-- no matter if they’re plastic or metal-- and can cause those lines to break. Pipes that are at the most risk and frequency for freezing are those that are outside-- like water sprinkler lines, water pipes in unheated areas of the house, or exterior pipes that aren’t insulated.
Before the onset of winter, there are many things you can do to reduce the chance of frozen pipes in your home and on your property:
Make sure that you follow the professional instructions that you received with your outdoor features-- like sprinklers or pools-- to safely drain and winterize them.
For outdoor items that can be damaged by freezing temperatures (like garden hoses), drain and store them indoors. Make sure that you also close inside valves that supply water to outdoor taps. Open the outdoor taps-- water can drain and should there be any remaining water, it can expand safely.
Check around your home for hot and cold water pipes that are not insulated. Consider installing products like a pipe sleeve, heat tape, or heat cables for pipes that aren’t protected.
Make sure that you keep your garage doors closed to conserve heat and keep any exposed water lines in the garage warm.
Circulate warm air to exposed pipes in your kitchen and bathroom by opening cabinet doors.
If the water is extremely cold, turn on faucets that are served by uninsulated pipes. The constant movement of water--even when just a trickle or drip-- can help retard freezing.
Keep the temperature in your house constant. It may be tempting to lower the nighttime temperature setting, however the slightly higher heating bill is much less than fixing a broken pipe.