As the winter months approach, millions of people brace for the freezing temperatures that come along with them. While winterizing vehicles, patio furniture, pools, and other items is routine for many people, it’s also very common to overlook one of the most important aspects of your home that you need to properly prepare for winter: plumbing.
Your plumbing is extremely susceptible to cold temperatures. Both the pipes outside and inside need to be winterized effectively in order to prevent them from bursting and causing thousands of dollars in damage to your home. Luckily, protecting your pipes from freezing in the winter is a very simple task as long as you follow these tips.
Leave a Faucet Dripping
It may seem strange, but simply leaving a faucet dripping whenever it’s not in use helps reduce the chances of ice building up in your pipes. The idea behind this is similar to comparing a river to a pond. Water in a pond will freeze in winter much easier and faster than water in a river since river water is constantly moving while pond water is mostly still. When all of your faucets are entirely off, the water in your pipes isn’t moving at all, allowing it to freeze more easily. However, merely having one faucet open enough to consistently drip keeps the water in your pipes moving at all times and helps prevent freezing.
Seal Up Cracks and Gaps
Ensuring that the cold stays out while the warmth stays in your home is vital to protecting your pipes from freezing up. Before winter hits, analyze your home, both inside and out, for cracks, gaps, and any place where air might sneak through. The gaps will need to be filled with caulking or spray foam insulation.
Open the Cabinets Under Sinks
A lack of warm airflow around the pipes in your bathroom and kitchen allows frost to form more easily, especially if the pipes are on a wall that leads to the exterior of the house. To help keep these pipes warm, leave the cabinets under your bathroom and kitchen sinks open as often as possible. This will allow the warm air in your home to circulate around the pipes and help prevent them from freezing.
Shield Outdoor Spigots
A frequently overlooked pipe to protect during winter is the outdoor spigot. While it may be small, it can still suffer irreparable damage if it freezes, leaving you without a source of water outside for hoses, sprinklers, irrigation systems, and more. To prevent outdoor spigots from freezing, drain the hose, bring it inside and cover the spigot. The best housing for any outdoor spigot is a Styrofoam spigot cover. They are extremely cheap, easy to install, and incredibly effective.
Cover Any Exposed Pipes With Pipe Insulation
A great way to warm up nearly any pipe quickly and easily is by putting an insulation sleeve over it. Insulation sleeves for pipes come in a wide range of sizes to fit nearly any pipe, and they are easily installed in minutes anywhere you have exposed pipes. Pipe insulation is especially beneficial on exterior pipes and plumbing that runs through basements or garages where other options for protection from frost are more limited.
Increase Insulation in Your Walls and Attic
It’s much easier to keep your home and pipes warm if you have proper insulation throughout all of your walls and your attic. You don’t have to break open the walls to check if your home has proper insulation. Simply touch the walls and ceiling and feel if they’re cold or damp. If they are, you may need to increase the amount of insulation throughout your home.
Keep Your Thermostat at the Same Temperature
Many people will adjust their thermostats to lower temperatures at night in order to save money on their energy bills. However, fluctuating temperatures make it easier for pipes to freeze. You don’t need to keep the temperature particularly high to help prevent freezing in your pipes. Simply find a comfortably warm temperature and make that temperature your minimum setting at all times. You may pay a bit more in heating bills, but paying for water damage caused by burst pipes is much more costly.
Keep Garage Doors Closed
It’s normal for people to leave garage doors open for a variety of reasons, but doing this exposes any plumbing in the garage to freezing cold weather. Your garage doors are a massive part of the protection for the plumbing that runs through your garage. An open garage door is essentially like removing an entire exterior wall of a room. Even having the door open for a few minutes can drastically lower the temperature of your pipes and cause freezing. Keep all garage doors closed as much as possible to help keep your pipes warm.
Keep the Heat on When You’re Away
When going away on vacation or business trips, many people turn their thermostats down in order to prevent the heat from coming on. It’s understandable that it seems wasteful to warm the house when no one is home. However, leaving your house without heat for extended periods of time in winter is an almost surefire recipe for frozen pipes. To make matters worse, if the pipes do freeze and burst while you’re away, the water will continue to cause massive damage to your home for days or even weeks with no one to notice it or stop the water from leaking. This can result in tens of thousands of dollars in water damage as well as the loss of precious family heirlooms and mementos.
It’s best to keep the heat on to ensure that the pipes stay warm no matter how long you’re away. It doesn’t have to be sweltering hot, but a temperature just high enough to keep the heater running will prevent frost buildup and burst pipes. A minimum of about 65 degrees is usually enough to keep most heaters running consistently.
Have Your Neighbor Check Up on Your House While You’re Away
Even if you keep the heater on while you’re away on vacations or business trips, that doesn’t guarantee that your pipes won’t freeze. Having a neighbor check up on your house periodically while you’re gone will allow them to notice signs that your heater might be malfunctioning or your pipes are starting to freeze. In the event of a broken heater or freezing pipes while you’re away from your home, you can contact an emergency plumbing and HVAC service to help rectify the issue and hopefully save your home from water damage.
If you live in the Dallas, Texas area, our professional technicians at On Time Experts will provide you with fast and skilled service in the event that your pipes do freeze and burst. We will not only be able to repair the damaged pipes, but we will also provide you with service for any issues with your heating and cooling systems, including repair, installation, duct cleaning, and much more. We can assist with drain cleaning, water filtration, water heaters, toilets, garbage disposals, and indoor air quality solutions as well. To set up an appointment or learn more about our services, contact us at On Time Experts today.