The winter season has finally arrived. However, with it comes these unseasonably cold temperatures that lead to frozen conditions. While you’re bundling up trying to keep yourself warm, you probably don’t realize that the pipes that supply both hot and cold water to your home need to be protected as well. When the temperature drops below 20 degrees, your plumbing system is in trouble. To avoid a costly mess and a call to a professional plumber, you must be wondering how to winterize pipes to keep them from freezing.
How to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing
There are many things that you can do to prevent your pipes from freezing. To be prepared for Old Man Winter, you don’t need to spend a fortune. Nonetheless, you should know that the cost of a frozen pipe busting can be quite expensive, especially if it saturated the home with water. Pipes don’t always bust when you are home or right there to quickly act. So, here are some ways that you can prevent the mess from happening in the first place.
1. Insulate Your Pipes
Your home has pipes that run under your home, in your walls, and all around the house. Some pipes even run in cement slabs. However, don’t worry about how to winterize pipes under the house. The pipes running in slabs are protected naturally from their surroundings. On the other hand, the pipes that are in drafty areas or are exposed to the elements have a great chance of freezing. Therefore, you should focus your efforts on these pipes.
For starters, insulate all the pipes in the crawl space under your house. If you don’t have a crawl space, then a basement will be your access point. Make sure to insulate both the hot and cold pipes. Snap-on foam insulation is very cost-effective. It fits perfectly on the pipes without glue or any real difficulty. Also, make sure that you put some tape on the joints of the insulation. This way, they won’t come loose over time. Miter foam is an excellent product to use around the joints too. It makes sure that the pipes are completely covered from drafts.
2. Keep the Faucets Dripping
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, yet it seems to work so well. When the temperatures dip below freezing, turn the water on and allow it to drip. Turn on both the hot and cold water as they both come from separate lines. The constant drip keeps the water flowing, which means that it cannot freeze.
Don’t worry about how to winterize pipes with the dripping water. It’s almost a full-proof method of making sure you have water in the morning. Another thing that this trick does is to release any build-up pressure in the pipes. If by some chance they freeze, the force would cause them to bust. Make sure to leave all faucets running, especially those located on an outside wall.
3. Heat Pipes with Heat Tape
Heat tape is another effective way to protect your pipes from the winter’s chill. Make sure that you select a UL approved tape. These materials come with a built-in thermostat built-in will keep the pipes from overheating. Each package comes with instructions. Nonetheless, they all work the same way. You want to follow the directions precisely to prevent a fire.
The tape activates when the pipes get below a specific temperature. By warming the surface, it warms the water stored inside. A warm pipe cannot freeze. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars to heat wrap all the pipes exposed in your home. On the other hand, this is one of the best ways for those concerned about how to winterize pipes.
4. Open All Cabinet Doors
Another little trick that you can do that won’t cost a dime is to open the cabinet doors. The faucets underneath your kitchen and bathroom sinks tend to be the areas of most concern. Open the doors and if possible set a heater near the area to help keep it nice and warm. The lines are under the sink, and the heat will keep things flowing freely.
5. Cover or Turn off the Outdoor Faucet
Your outside faucet relates to the plumbing inside the home. Because this faucet is not usually used in winter, many have a shut-off valve nearby. If you don’t have a valve on your unit, you should have one installed. This is an inexpensive procedure, all the more reason to carry out this step.
If you are concerned about how to winterize pipes connected to the outside, call a local plumber for help. Meanwhile, you should cover and insulate this area during cold periods. The last thing you want is the outside unit to freeze and affect your interior.
6. Cycle Your Washer
Your laundry room probably doesn’t have a faucet that you can leave dripping. However, running your washing machine is just as good. To begin, set your washing machine on warm or hot water. Allow the unit to fill up and let it drain and run the water through the pipes. Do this ever so often when it’s cold to prevent your water lines and drains from freezing.
7. Winterize Your Home
Depending on the age of your home, you probably have some leaks that need to be sealed. Check around windows and doors for any air blowing inside. When contemplating how to winterize pipes, you must be concerned with temperatures and drafts.
You want to seal up those cracks so that you make sure your home stays at a consistent temperature. When things are blowing and snowing outside, you want to make sure those drafts are not whipping through your home. Caulking is an inexpensive tool that will help weatherize your home, not to mention it will also keep bugs at bay.
Be Prepared for Winter
You may have some frozen pipes during the winter, but you won’t know the damage until they thaw. Since water freezes and expands inside the pipes, the pressure from the block of ice pushes on the structure. As the block of frozen water grows larger, it often bursts the pipe.
A break isn’t always so obvious. It can be a small crack or a joint that comes loose too. It’s best to turn the water off and inspect the pipes before turning it back on, especially after a freeze and thaw. A little bit of work before winter and you can rest assured you won’t be dealing with a broken pipe this year. Don’t fret about how to winterize pipes when you can use this list to help protect your home.