After a long summer and keeping our shorts and shades on into November, we’ve been on a roller coaster ride of temperatures, and now it looks like we’re heading for cooler times. Ideally, you should winterize your pipes in the fall, before winter seriously sets in. But if you’ve forgotten and all of a sudden, you’re in the middle of a deep freeze, there’s still time to prevent disaster. Here are some easy tips to save your pipes from bursting this Winter:
Keep it under wraps: During the coldest temperatures, your uninsulated pipes are at their highest risk—especially the draftier areas like your garage or attic and outside areas, as well. When it gets below freezing, any water left in these pipes can freeze and expand, causing the pipes to crack or burst. And that means trouble. Instead of just hoping for the best, take preventative measures by wrapping your pipes and outdoor plumbing fixtures in insulating material such as towels, foam or insulation sleeves.
Open cabinet doors: During cold weather, open any cabinet doors covering plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom. This allows the home’s warm air to better circulate, which can help prevent the exposed piping from freezing. While this won’t help much with pipes hidden in walls, ceilings, or under the home, it can keep water moving and limit the dangerous effects of freezing weather.
Let it run. If the temperatures have dropped into freezing and intend to stay there, turning on your faucets — both indoors and out — can keep water moving through your system and slow down the freezing process. There’s no need to waste gallons of water: Aim for about five drips per minute.
Call it in. If you do see a leak in any of your pipes or fixtures, make sure you act immediately. A leak is no cosmetic issue, especially during the winter. If there is a leak, there is a good possibility your pipes are already damaged and may be ticking time bombs for bigger issues (we don’t even want to think about). Don’t wait for a “convenient time”; call in a plumber (us, of course) ASAP to avoid further damage.
Know the drill. If, despite your best efforts, you still experience a burst pipe this winter, you’ll want to know what to do immediately so that damage can be minimized. The most important first action step is to turn off the main water line to avoid a total flood. After that, call a plumber (us!) immediately, or if you’re not sure where the main shut off is located, call us the minute you know there is a problem. If you know the plumbing layout of your property you can try to identify the source of the leak and fix it yourself, but be sure to insulate the pipe when you replace it to avoid future issues.