How to Winterize Your Plumbing System This Fall
Having the hose in your unheated laundry room freeze, burst, and then start spraying water everywhere can make for a fun story to tell at dinner parties. But while you’re in the middle of slipping around the laundry room and searching in a panic for the knob that turns your water off, you probably won’t be laughing.
Temperatures in Springdale can become brutally cold in the middle of winter. While the average low in January and February hovers just above freezing, it’s not unheard of for there to be freezing or even subzero temperatures. While many of the pipes in your home will stay safe from freezes as long as your furnace is working properly, other pipes may be more at risk. Uninsulated pipes in an unheated room can freeze, as can pipes that are nearer the outside wall of your home.
The complications can increase if you plan on being away from your home for a long period during the winter with your furnace off. Even more, preparation is needed in this situation to make sure your pipes stay safe while you’re away.
If you have had problems with pipes freezing in the past, you may not be looking forward to winter temperatures. But at Stith Plumbing & Heating, we can help you to spend more time cuddled up on the couch with hot chocolate and less time sliding around in puddles in your laundry room. Whether you will be at home or away this winter, all it takes is a few steps of preparation to winterize your home.
Winterizing Your Plumbing for a Vacancy
Not everyone wants to brave the colder temperatures of a Springdale winter. Many people leave their homes vacant during the winter and escape to warmer climates until Springdale’s balmy summer months come back again. If you plan on leaving your home vacant for any amount of time during the winter, it’s important to adequately prepare your home for the colder temperatures. You don’t want water left in any of the piping or fixtures that could freeze while you’re away. You could be left with piping damage and a big surprise when you turn your water back on in the spring.
Turn Off Your Water
The first thing you’ll want to do any time you need to winterize your house for a vacancy is to turn off your water. Find your main water valve and turn it off. If you have city water, you can also have the city come out and shut the water off on the street. Next, if you have a jet pump or a submersible pump, turn these off as well.
Prepare Your Water Heater
You don’t want any water to be left in your water heater tank since frozen water can damage your water heater. All tanked water heaters have a drain at the bottom, but you may have to attach a garden hose to the drain if it doesn’t come with a floor drain. If you have an electric water heater, use your circuit breaker box to turn off the power to your water heater. If you have a gas water heater, make sure your pilot light switch is turned to “pilot” to ensure that there is no gas flow to the appliance.
Prepare Your Water Lines
After you turn off your water, it’s time to empty as much of the water in your pipes as possible. You’ll want to turn on all of the taps in your home in addition to any drain valves that you have. Having all of them open helps to get out as much water as possible. If you want to go a step further in making sure your pipes are empty, use an air compressor to get the remaining water out. You can call a local plumbing company to find out more about how to properly use an air compressor to remove the water or to have them do it for you.
Prepare Your Toilets and Drains
You’ll need a different strategy to make sure your sewer line doesn’t freeze. Since blowing air into your sewer line isn’t an option, you can use non-toxic anti-freeze instead. Since any water that remains in toilets or drains can cause damage to your plumbing, you’ll want to start by flushing your toilet. Once your toilet is empty, add anti-freeze to the bowl and tank. To protect your drains, pour a couple of cups of anti-freeze into each drain around your home.
Prepare Your Outdoor Faucets
You’ll want to make sure you prepare the outdoor faucets for the winter, too. Make sure that the water supply is turned off and that you have removed all hoses or other attachments from the faucet. You can also buy a faucet cover to protect it from the worst of the cold temperatures.
Mark Faucets With Warning Signs
If you plan on being away from your home for the winter months, you have likely arranged to have a friend or family member come to your home every once in a while to make sure that everything is still fine. However, the last thing that you want is for them to turn on your water after you have gone through the trouble of winterizing your property. By posting signs on each faucet, you can remind anyone coming to your home not to use the plumbing.
Winterizing Your Plumbing for Winter Residence
If you plan to be at home during the winter, there are many tips and tricks for keeping your plumbing safe during a particularly cold spell. You can turn your faucets on and let them drip so that the water doesn’t have a chance to freeze. You can even open all your cabinets to let the heat get to the plumbing under your sinks. But if your home is in an area like Springdale that has subfreezing temperatures every year, it might be worth taking more permanent action to permanently winterize your pipes. Here are some steps you can take.
Identify Problem Areas
You may not have an unheated laundry room, but you likely have areas that are more susceptible to the cold. Common problem spots can be unheated basements or attics, crawl spaces that have plumbing in them, garages, and plumbing that is near the exterior of your home. In your house, the areas that will need the most help will be the areas where freezes have happened before.
Consider Different Plumbing Materials
When it comes to plumbing materials, there is often no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of which plumbing materials to use. However, if one of your main goals is to prevent burst pipes in your home, one type of material, called PEX, comes out on top.
Water freezing in your pipes can be an inconvenience because you won’t be able to use your water until it thaws out. But the main problem comes when your pipes burst because of the pressure. Water expands as it freezes which can put a lot of pressure on materials that are rigid and can’t expand. Copper, PVC, and CPVC materials, while good materials in many respects, can be more brittle and can burst when frozen.
PEX is a flexible material that can expand and contract again. This means that even when the pipes do freeze, they are less likely to burst. However, even if you do have PEX piping materials, it’s still important to protect them since frequent freezes can wear out the material and eventually cause leaks.
Add Insulation to Your Pipes
If you have any piping that is exposed, especially in locations that are susceptible to winter temperatures, you’ll want to properly insulate them to keep them from freezing. There are several different insulation techniques that you can consider for your specific situation.
- Jacketing: You wouldn’t go outside in freezing temperatures without a jacket, so don’t let your pipes be without insulation! If you have any problem areas throughout your home, you can protect them by covering every inch with pipe jacketing. This insulating material is designed to easily fit around pipes, but make sure you don’t leave any sections uncovered.
- Electrical Heat Tape: Electrical heat tape can be a great way to protect any exposed pipes from freezing. However, you should check with a Springdale plumber to make sure you are installing it correctly. Heat tape is safe if used correctly, but the improper installation of heat tape can lead to fires.
If you don’t want to take on the project yourself or if you want to make sure your plumbing is properly and thoroughly winterized, you can get in touch with a plumber. At SPH, we would be happy to help you with any plumbing projects including insulating your pipes.
Divert Your Plumbing
The location of the piping doesn’t always make sense. If you are still having problems with freezes despite insulating your pipes, you may want to consider repiping services to divert piping to a warmer location. For any major services such as repiping or plumbing repair, a local plumbing company can come and provide you with professional services.
Insulate Your Home
Having a properly insulated home doesn’t just help to keep your plumbing from freezing. It can also help you stay a lot more comfortable during the winter when cold air is trying to sneak through every crack and crevice. If you want to keep both your pipes and your family toasty warm, do what you can to keep the cold out. If there are any holes or cracks in your walls or floors, fill them with caulk. As a bonus, plugging up the cracks can also keep pests out of your home.
Does Insurance Cover a Burst Pipe?
If you’re wondering if all of the trouble of winterizing your plumbing is worth it, you may want to take a look at your insurance policy. While most insurance policies cover certain types of water damage, pipes that have burst from getting frozen are typically not covered. Most insurance companies view a burst pipe as being the result of negligence to winterize the plumbing properly and prevent a freeze.
However, while most insurance companies don’t cover the cost of the pipe repair, it may cover the cleanup and water damage repair that is needed after the pipe freezes. You should check your specific insurance policy to see what is covered when it comes to burst pipes. However, doing your due diligence and making sure to properly protect your plumbing is always worth it. No one wants the hassle of having to clean up water, call for plumbing repairs, and deal with insurance companies.
Plumbing Services in Springdale, AR
Frozen pipes are one of the most common plumbing problems during the winter season in Springdale. At SPH, we spend many hours repairing burst sections of piping and giving customers tips on how to thaw out their pipes. Since a burst pipe can cause thousands of dollars worth of water damage, especially if you are away from home when the leak starts, it’s important to do everything you can to prevent frozen pipes from happening in the first place.
If you are living on a property that has never been properly winterized, you can minimize some of the stress of those abnormally cold days by having a plumber come to your house in the fall and look for potential problem areas and fix them. At Stith Plumbing & HVAC, we look for exposed piping that hasn’t been properly insulated and we provide ways to fix the problem. We can also provide services if you’re about to leave for the winter and you want to make sure your plumbing will be safe while you’re gone. With a little preparation, you can prevent frozen pipes in your home or business.
At SPH, we offer many different plumbing services including pipe repair, plumbing installations, winterization services, and more. Call us or visit us online for more information about our plumbing services in Springdale and the surrounding areas.