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Five Tips for Winterizing Plumbing Pipes

October 14, 2013

It?s hard to believe that winter is just around the corner. If you?re like many homeowners then you may be getting your home ready for the cold. Your plumbing system constitutes one of the most important things to protect from the cold. Burst pipes can cause significant damage, as well as costing you water pressure in your home. Take a look below at 5 tips for winterizing plumbing pipes.

  • Insulation. Few things winterize your plumbing system more effectively than insulating your water pipes. The water in the pipes is under pressure so that it can flow up your pipes and into your home. If the water freezes then it won?t have anywhere to go and the pressure will continue to build until it bursts the pipe. If you live in an area where the temperature gets below 20° F (-6° C) then you should probably consider insulating your pipes.
  • Drain exterior faucets. Your home likely has an outdoor hose bib or a faucet with a hose connected to it for washing cars and watering plants. Shut off the main water supply to those faucets, remove any hoses attached to them, and then turn them on again. This will drain any excess water in the pipes so that it doesn?t freeze and damage your plumbing. You might also consider draining your hoses to prevent them from freezing as well.
  • Keep indoor fixtures warm. Seal off any cracked windows or doors near your fixtures and incoming pipes. Anywhere in your home that isn?t insulated well could allow the pipes to freeze.
  • Address crawl spaces. Don?t forget about insulating the pipes that run under your home, in your attic or in your crawl spaces. These areas are probably not insulated, which means that the pipes in them can get very cold as well.
  • Insulate the water heater. Your water heater probably isn?t in danger of freezing but the cold weather can sap a lot of heat from it. Consider insulating it in order to reduce your energy usage throughout the winter.

If your pipes do freeze, you should turn on the closest cold water faucet to relieve pressure created by the freezing water. Wrap the pipes in towels soaked with warm water to slowly thaw them. Do not try to use a hair dryer or blow torch to thaw the pipes because the rapid change in temperature can cause the pipes to crack.

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