The simple fact of the upcoming winter season is that homes need to be prepared for cold weather. That could mean more insulation in your attic to keep you nice and warm. And, make sure outdoor lighting is working properly as it gets darker sooner in the evening. Now, to prepare your home for a potential catastrophe of hundreds of gallons of water spilling inside, you’ve got to prepare your home’s plumbing heading into cold weather. Here’s how!
Winterize Outdoor Faucets
Firstly, disconnect any outdoor hoses you have and store them in your garage for winter. Freezing water can split hoses and ruin them. Next, shut off outdoor faucets at their shutoff valves. Turn on the faucet and then the bleeder cap at the shutoff valve. This drains any water from the pipe. If the pipe isn’t drained, it can freeze and crack. With the bleeder cap open, if water continues to drip the shutoff valve needs to be replaced.
Consider Installing Heat Cables
Practically every home is going to have pipes vulnerable to freezing. If water freezes in the pipes, the ice expands which could crack the pipes. Heat cables are a great solution. With an integral thermostat on that monitors pipe temperature, heat cables turn on and off to prevent pipes from freezing. Heat cables are available at your home store, or, better yet, have your plumbing professional install them while winterizing your plumbing system.
Insulate Vulnerable Pipes
Pipes vulnerable to freezing this winter are located in your crawl spaces, an attic, basement, or garage. One of the most effective ways to prevent these pipes from freezing is to use heat cables and then wrap them with pipe insulation. Insulating pipes in unconditioned areas without heat cables does very little and can actually prevent heat from getting to the pipes. The combination of heat cables and insulation is the way to go.
Going Out Of Town? Shut Off The Water
If you’re going to be away from your home for a few days or more, you need to turn off the main shutoff valve. This way, if pipes do freeze and crack, you won’t have water spilling inside an unattended home. You’ll have far less damage. If you have an automatic icemaker on your fridge, turn it off, too. You don’t want to burn out the motor with the icemaker continually trying to make ice!
Now, the same goes if you’re selling your home and it’s not occupied. Turn off the main shutoff.
What To Do When The Cold Snap Hits
Many homeowners nowadays have programmable thermostats or WiFi-enabled thermostats that adjust temperatures automatically. During cold snaps, it’s better to keep the temperature in your home at a more even temperature. So, override those automatic thermostats and keep your home warm.
Also, open kitchen cabinet doors during cold snaps. Kitchen plumbing behind closed cabinet doors may be vulnerable to freezing, too. So open up those cabinets to let house heat reach them. Lastly, during cold snaps, leave faucets running a little bit. A running faucet acts like a relief valve for pressure buildup if pipes do freeze. This can help frozen pipes from cracking. However, don’t leave faucets running on sinks at exterior walls, as the drains can freeze.
If you need any help winterizing your home’s plumbing system, contact MN Plumbing & Home Services! We’re happy to help!