Old Man Winter will soon be here. Our plumbing expert shares how to get your pipes ready for cold weather.
Fall is just around the corner and that means winter will be here before you know it. To help you keep your home’s plumbing sound during these cold months, here are some tips to get your plumbing ready for the seasonal change!
Shut off outdoor faucets
Turn off outdoor faucets at their shutoff valves. Open the faucet and then open the bleeder cap on the shutoff valve to drain any water out of the pipe. If you don’t drain the pipe, it can still freeze and crack. Leave the bleeder cap open with a bucket underneath to catch any drips. If the dripping continues, your shutoff valve needs to be replaced.
A water-filled hose left out in cold weather will freeze. If the hose is still connected to the faucet, ice can back up into the pipe inside your house, causing the pipe to crack. Disconnect all hoses from their faucets, drain them and store them for the winter.
Install heat cable
Heat cables are a perfect solution for vulnerable pipes. They have an integral thermostat that senses pipe temperature, turning the heat on and off as needed to keep the pipe from freezing. You’ll need an accessible outlet to plug in the cable. Heat cables are available at home centers for $15 to $40, depending on the length.
Shut the water off if you leave town
If you’re leaving town for a few days or more, turn the water off at the main shutoff. That way, if frozen pipes do crack, you’ll have far less damage. Shut off your automatic icemaker so it doesn’t continually try to make ice, burning out the motor. Even if the ice bin is full, the ice will evaporate and the icemaker will try to make more.
Insulate your garage door
If you have water lines in the garage, insulate the garage door, if not the whole garage. Consider a combination of heat cable and insulation as well. If it’s really cold, put a portable heater in the garage.
Keep the temperature steady when it gets really cold
What constitutes a cold snap depends on your climate and your home’s insulation. A temperature of 32 degrees F isn’t cause for alarm in Minnesota, but it might be in Mississippi. So during extreme cold, bypass your thermostat’s program and leave the temperature steady. You may even want to turn it up a couple of degrees.
Leave faucets running when it gets too cold
A trickling faucet acts as a relief valve for the pressure that builds up if frozen pipes do occur. That pressure relief can prevent frozen pipes from cracking. A slow trickle is all you need. It’ll bump up your next water bill a bit, but compared with major home repairs, that’s an easy price to pay. Don’t leave a faucet running if the drain is on an exterior wall, though; the drain can freeze, causing the sink to overflow.