With the summer coming to an end, you may be starting to decorate your home for the fall. Halloween décor, pumpkins, and mums may be on your to-do list, but focusing on home maintenance is also important. Considering the colder, freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your plumbing system, preparing pipes, faucets, and drains for the upcoming season is smart. Using this guide on winterizing your home's plumbing, you can prevent annoying water leaks, frozen pipes that burst, and expensive water damage.
Insulating any pipes outside your home is essential before the winter season begins. If temperatures are at or below 20 degrees, your pipes are at a higher risk of freezing, leaving you without water and increasing your risk of a burst pipe, leaks, and overwhelming damage to the home due to water. Thankfully, insulating your pipes is a simple option for prevention.
Visit your local home improvement or hardware store to purchase foam pipe insulation made from polyethylene or fiberglass for the best protection. Cut each section of foam to fit the exposed pipes around your home's exterior and under your crawlspace. Slide the foam over pipes that may become a problem in the colder temperatures. Seal the ends of the foam by wrapping duct tape around the pipe and foam insulation. Be sure to close the door to your crawlspace completely, as well. This will prevent cold air from entering the crawlspace, which protects the pipes from freezing.
Faucets and Spigots
When you are expecting freezing temperatures, be sure your indoor and outdoor faucets and spigots are protected from the harsh weather. Allow one faucet in your house to drip cold water overnight. This small amount of running water will reduce the freezing risk. If you have an underground irrigation system, drain the water from the lines before powering off the water supply.
After allowing water to drain from any outdoor spigots, disconnect garden hoses and store them in your garage or shed. Cover your outdoor spigots with foam insulation caps. These covers will protect the spigots from the freezing temperatures, ensuring they are in proper working order for the spring.
The early part of the fall is a great time to clean and drain plumbing lines. Following this cleaning and draining process, you will reduce your risk of heavy buildup inside your lines and protect the underlying plumbing from freezing and bursting. To get started, run a pot of hot water through each drain. Include your kitchen and bathroom sinks and tub or shower drains in your cleaning process.
Once clean, complete the following steps to drain your pipes for the winter season:
- Shut off the main water supply valve.
- For a multiple story home, start at the top and work your way downstairs, turning on every faucet or water source in your home including sink faucets and showers. For one-story homes, begin on one end of the house and work your way to the opposite end. Allow the water to flow until it runs out. Flush toilets and remove the tank cover to continue flushing the water until it runs out.
- Turn on your dishwasher and washing machine, too. Allow hot water cycles to run through each appliance, flushing out sediments and residue while draining the lines.
- Add a small amount of non-toxic antifreeze to sink and tub drains. In addition, add a capful of antifreeze to the toilet tank.
- After draining your plumbing lines and require water, turn the main water supply valve on again.
Preparing your home for the harsh, freezing temperatures of the winter season may seem overwhelming. However, with a bit of effort and care, you can reduce your risk of problematic leaks and expensive repairs and replacements. Using these tips, you can winterize your faucets, pipes, and drains without any stress. Click here for more info about winterizing pipes.