As winter approaches, many of us turn our thoughts toward prepping for the upcoming holidays. You may begin to plan your big Thanksgiving dinner or get your house ready for holiday travel. The last thing you want to have to deal with is a sudden plumbing emergency or having water damage go unnoticed while you're traveling or have friends and family in your home for the holidays.
Preparing your plumbing for winter before temperatures dip below freezing is a good start to ensuring a pleasant holiday season. Here are our suggestions.
Unhook any hoses connected to outdoor faucets before temperatures begin to fall. It’s not a bad idea to drain hoses and store them somewhere inside and out of the elements to extend their lifespans.
Consider having a frost-proof sill cock installed. Frost-proof sill cocks put the faucet’s flow valve well within the heated walls of your home. If a sudden freeze occurs and you haven’t shut down and drained the faucet’s water line for the winter, your chances of having a pipe burst drop dramatically.
Have shut-off valves installed at all outdoor faucet supply lines if the water lines do not already have them. Make sure the shut-off valve is installed in an area that won’t be exposed to cold temperatures. Once installed, you can shut off the outdoor supply lines and drain them by opening the sill cock.
Prevent Pipes from Freezing
Pipes located near exterior walls or that run through the garage, crawl spaces, or the attic are susceptible to freezing when outdoor temperatures drop. To prevent this from occuring, these pipes should be insulated with heat tape or (at the very least) foam sleeves.
When temperatures get really low, consider keeping the garage door closed, opening cabinet doors to let warm air circulate around pipes under your sink near an exterior wall, and/or let a trickle of water run through your faucets to prevent standing water from freezing inside your pipes.
Plan for Travel
When leaving your home for a holiday vacation or any other reason, do not shut off your furnace to save money while you're gone. Make sure you keep the thermostat set to at least 60° Fahrenheit. If your water pipes freeze and then burst, it can cost you thousands of dollars, far more than any amount you'd save by shutting your furnace down for a few days or weeks.
You can also shut off the main water supply and then turn on each faucet to drain the water from the pipes before you leave.
A water sensor alarm can also be easily installed to alert you if unwanted water presents itself; whether it's a major flood or a trickle of water, you'll be alerted promptly. Most alarms can now be programmed to send the alert straight to your cell phone.
Call a Professional Plumber
A professional plumber can inspect your home and fix potential problems before disaster strikes. They can also install frost-proof sill cocks, shut-off valves, and heat tape or reroute freeze-prone pipes away from exterior walls if necessary.
An experienced eye can spot small leaks or other potential problems as well. Fixing smaller problems before they become big ones is always more cost effective. Repairing a broken water pipe can cost you more than $10,000.