As the cold winter weather seeps back into the air and the days get shorter, many of us spend more time at home. While you may have your snow shovels ready, you also should be thinking about the health of your home. Protecting your pipes from freezing is a great way to ensure that your family and home stay happy and healthy this winter season.
Start With Your Hose
When it comes to preparing your plumbing system for the wintertime, one of the first things that you want to do is drain and disconnect your outside hose. There will be a valve just inside your home where the faucet comes in. You’ll want to turn this valve off and drain out any excess water that is in the piping between the valve and the outdoor faucet. Investing in a frost-free outdoor faucet can be a great way to help provide an extra layer of security against freezing pipes in the wintertime. Make sure that you store your hose indoors so that it doesn’t become damaged over the winter season.
Assess Your Home’s Plumbing
When it comes to preventing frozen pipes, you want to focus on the water supply lines throughout your home. Take a few moments and walk around your basement to determine where all your water lines are and which ones are exposed. Water lines that are exposed are defined as those that don’t have an adequate heat source to protect them from freezing weather.
For example, water lines that run out to your unheated garage are considered exposed. It’s crucial to take note of all these exposed pipe areas so that you can come back and prevent them from being affected by freezing temperatures.
Seal Up Leaks
The next step that you want to take is to seal up any leaks that are allowing cold air to seep into your home. A very common place is right at the joist, where the water lines from your outdoor faucet and your main water supply line come into your home. Using a foam sealer or caulking is a great way to help keep the cold air from seeping in and affecting the pipe.
Insulate Your Pipes
It’s a good rule of thumb to install some pipe insulation on all the exposed pipes in your home. You definitely want to ensure that you’re doing your best to provide more barriers between the cold air and your actual pipes. Insulation can come in the form of many different products, including sheathing material as well as thermal barrier tape. Do your best to cover all sections of your exposed pipes, including any turns, as this will provide maximum effort against undesirable cold temperatures. Don’t forget to insulate the cold water pipe that connects to the hot water tank. This is particularly important if the appliance is in an unheated garage or utility closet.
Use Heat Cables
If you have various areas in your home where there is exposed piping, you may want to consider investing in heat cables. These cables simply get wrapped around the exposed pipe. They are thermostatically controlled so that when the temperature dips to freezing, the heat cables will start to warm up your pipes in an effort to prevent them from freezing.
Let Water Flow
When a cold patch comes through, and there are multiple days when the temperatures are going to be below freezing, it’s a good idea to let your faucet run at a trickle. Having water free flowing through the pipe helps to prevent any ice from building up and freezing your pipe. It’s a good idea to choose a faucet that is furthest down the line in your plumbing.
For example, you’ll want to pick a faucet that is upstairs, as all the downstairs water lines likely come first in your plumbing setup. This will ensure that water is moving the whole way from where it comes into your home up through the last faucet on the run. The open faucet also releases pressure in the system and helps to keep pipes from bursting if there is an ice dam.
Open Up Your Cabinets
An area that you want to pay particular attention to is the piping underneath your cabinets. Normally this piping doesn’t have a problem with freezing, but it can get quite chilly underneath the cabinet, where it’s harder to get heat directly inside. A good rule of thumb is to open up those cabinet doors and allow the uninsulated pipes to be exposed to the warm air in your home.
Shut Off Your Water
During the holiday season, many of us travel to spend time with family and friends. If you’re going to be away from your home for multiple days, then you’ll want to properly prepare your plumbing. It’s a good idea to completely shut off the water supply to your home and drain any remaining water throughout your system. You’ll want to drain this water from the closest spot to your water supply line. This will ensure that all the water comes out of the pipes so that they won’t freeze.
Use a Smart Thermostat
Your thermostat should never be set at a temperature below 55° F. This temperature helps to ensure that it stays warm enough to keep your pipes at a temperature above freezing. Unfortunately, from time to time, your thermostat may have an issue or even a dead battery. When this happens, your thermostat will fail to turn your heating system on, and your pipes will be exposed to cold temperatures.
Investing in a smart thermostat is a great way to help ensure that you know the exact moment that your thermostat has a problem. For example, you’ll be notified when the battery starts to fail. This will give you time to react before your home gets too cold and creates frozen pipes. If you’re going to be out of town on vacation, make sure that you have a person you can contact in the event that your thermostat stops working.
Add Insulation to Walls
Another popular area where pipes can freeze is in the exterior walls of your home. The exterior walls are the first ones that are exposed to the cold winter weather when it hits. A great way to help protect any water lines that run in exterior walls is to add additional insulation to those walls. If you have wall panels, you may be able to simply pull them off and add batts of insulation. However, if you have drywall or another permanently fixed material to your exterior walls, you may want to invest in spray insulation that causes minimal damage during installation.
Excellent Plumbing Services
Polar Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning offers excellent plumbing services for the entire Newburgh, NY region and surrounding areas. We can also help with all of your heating, cooling, and indoor air quality needs. Contact Polar Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning today to schedule your next service appointment.