So its definitely that time of year again and many of our local customers are contacting Jennings Plumbing Services to see what they can do to prepare their homes and businesses for the winter. This process is known as “winterizing”.
Winterizing plumbing pipes is a process that prepares residential or commercial properties pipes / plumbing for freezing temperatures that can cause leaks and breaks in the home. When water freezes, it expands as it becomes ice. This expansion produces pressure within pipes, which causes damage. After this years last freeze we have been inundated with calls about this exact thing happening so we have brought you this short blog post to keep you informed and to ultimately prevent this from happening to you and your family or business!
Winterizing your homes plumbing is recommended when the house will be vacant for a long period of time and no water will be running through the pipes. The winterizing process involves emptying the water heater, draining all water from the pipes, and filling all fixtures with an antifreeze solution.
How to Prepare for Plumbing Winterization
Begin with a quick checklist for winterizing your plumbing. It is easy to miss a step, so make yourself a brief list of all your home’s plumbing parts, including all faucets and valves, and then follow the steps detailed below. Mark the steps off as you complete them, so you’ll know you did everything needed, and then you won’t have any surprises to worry about the next time you check on your vacant property that could cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.
Steps for Winterizing Your Plumbing
Follow these detailed steps to winterize the plumbing pipes in your home or business:
- Shut off the main water valve, and then turn off the water pump and the water heater. It will protect heating elements in the water heater when there is no water inside the tank.
- Open all drain valves and all taps. Check off each on your list, so you are sure all taps are open. A closed tap could create a vacuum that will hold water inside of pipes. All valves and taps should remain open throughout the winter.
- Using air compressors, blow excess water out of the pipes.
- Open the drain valve in your hot water tank and let it discharge until it is empty. Be careful, because sometimes these hot water tanks don’t have floor drains and you will need to connect a garden hose to it.
- Drain all the water that is left in the holding tank, especially the one located in the rubber diaphragm, the one that is used along with the water tank to build pressure. As an additional protective measure, add antifreeze to the jet pump case.
- Flush toilets to remove as much water as you can from the tanks and the toilet bowls. If all water cannot be removed, add antifreeze to prevent any water from freezing and cracking the toilet.
- Check all sink and tub drains that could have drain traps. Add some antifreeze to each one of them to prevent water from freezing and cracking in the traps.
How to Prevent Freezing Pipes
If you have a decent amount of time to prepare and check the conditions of the building’s plumbing, identify which of your pipes is most vulnerable to freezing. To do this be sure to look for pipes located on outside walls, uninsulated pipes, and pipes installed in or near unheated spaces.
Be sure to also check for any cracks and openings in walls, floors, and ceilings. If you find any holes during your inspection, remember to caulk them to keep any cold air from traveling through those gaps.
More Plumbing Winterization tips:
- Insulate pipes with inexpensive insulation sleeves from your local Home Depot, wrapping or using slip-on foam pipe insulation. Do not leave any open gaps without insulation as cold air can affect the pipe in these areas. Plastic piping is more tolerant to freezing than older copper or galvanized steel water pipes. PEX and Uponor piping is considered the best for colder climates where freezing is a concern. If you’re considering doing some plumbing renovations check out our repiping services!
- Maintain a heating source inside the building to protect pipes against the cold.
- Inspect the exterior of the property, making sure that all visible cracks are sealed. Cold air can enter through the cracks and, once inside, it will cause your pipes to freeze. If visible cracks are noticed, seal them immediately using caulking or spray foam to fill the voids.
- Keep a faucet dripping, allowing the water to move freely and continuously through your pipes and therefore preventing it from freezing.
- Make sure your homes crawl space is properly insulated. Block vents that lead to the outside of the home or building using cardboard or wood.
- Don’t forget to check the hose bibs. Hose bibs are normally left unattended, causing them to burst in the middle of the night. Drain all water from the hose bibs and insulate them with covers.
- Some individuals recommend the use heat tape to protect pipes from freezing. Heat tape is one of the preferred methods for winterizing plumbing, but be aware that using heat tape can be a fire hazard and to take all necessary precautions.