Uh-oh, winter is coming. Everybody knows that cold and freezing temperatures can lead directly to plumbing nightmares. To avoid stress and unexpected bills during the winter/holiday season, it is important to know some solid plumbing tips, so you can hack your way through the ice. Below you will find some useful bits of knowledge to help you stay warm and stress-free throughout the long, unforgiving winter.
1. Faucet Drip
This is probably the most commonly known cold weather plumbing tip – when temperatures are expected to fall below freezing (32 F), you should run your faucets on a very slow drip. This allows for constant water flow throughout the pipe and mitigates the potential for freezing. This tip is crucial because if the water in a pipe freezes, the water molecules expand as they become ice – this is likely to lead to cracks or even pipes bursting, which would, in turn, put a crack in your wallet. A slow drip throughout the day is the equivalent of about a gallon of water. Don’t worry about your water bill, the increase will be minimal (if even noticeable) and will certainly be less than the cost of replacing pipes.
2. Open Sink Cabinets
If you have sink cabinets that are against an outside wall, one easy way to help prevent frozen pipes is to simply open the cabinet doors. This will allow for greater air flow from the rest of the house to under the sink. A little warm air goes a long way.
3. Fight Winter During The Summer
Take advantage of the warm weather to further prepare your house for the onslaught of winter. One way you can do this is by insulting your pipes. This can be a DIY project and the cost of the insulation is relatively inexpensive. We recommend that pipes be insulated anywhere that there are exposed pipes in a unheated part of your home (basement, crawlspace, attic, garage, etc.).
4. Don’t Forget Outside
It’s easy to keep your focus on the pipes inside your house, but it is equally important to remember the ways the exterior of your house can affect the pipes inside your house. First, remember to disconnect your garden hoses from your outdoor spigot (faucet). If the hose freezes, it can lead to the spigot seal being broken. Also, make sure the spigot is completely off and covered. You can use anything from Styrofoam to an old towel to cover the spigot (as always, duct tape is your friend). One last thing, if you have an outdoor irrigation system, double-check that you have it turned off.
5. Emergency Action
If you do find yourself at the mercy of Jack Frost and a pipe cracked/burst, the first thing you should do is shut off your water. This may be found in different spots in different homes – so do yourself a favor and find out before winter comes. After the water main is shut off, you can attempt to thaw the pipe with a hair dryer (probably the easiest/safest method). After you think it is thawed, you can turn the water back on just a little bit, in order to determine where the crack is located. This can be a short-term fix until you are able to get a long-term solution.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you do end up needing a cure this winter, the Plumb Doctor has the remedy. If you have any questions about cold weather and plumbing, please contact us.