There a number of things you can do in advance of cold weather to minimize the risk of frozen and burst pipes.
- Eliminate Drafts: A cold draft might be the factor that pushes your pipes to freezing levels. Fix broken windows, apply weather stripping, block crawl space vents and un-insulated areas.
- Wrap Pipes: Wrap exposed pipes with insulation of heat tape.
- Close Valves: Close the valves that supply outdoor hose bibs. After you close valves make sure you go outside and open the hose bib to drain water and then close them again.
- Use Insulated Covers on Hose Bibs: If you aren't going turn off and drain outside hose bibs, then use insulated faucet covers to reduce the risk of freezing.
- Drain Irrigation Systems: Winterize your irrigation system by draining it to avoid costly leaks in the spring. Disconnect and drain garden hoses as well.
- Keep Garage Doors Closed: This prevents drafts on pipes and preserves some heat in the garage space.
- Drain Water System: If you must leave town for an extended period during the winter months, drain the water system in your home. While nothing may occur, coming back to a leak that has been running for days on end will certainly ruin a homecoming.
During severe cold snaps you may also want to:
- Open Cabinets: This allows additional heat to circulate around your pipes.
- Leave Faucets Trickling: It might add a little to your water bill, but it helps stop pipes from freezing and the extra water cost is a lot cheaper than the repair bill for a burst pipe.
These tips will help you avoid the inconvenience and expense of a burst water line. Customers would be well advised to make sure they know where the main shut off valve to their home plumbing system is located. In the event of a burst pipe in the home, this is the most effective way to stop the flow of water fast! Most shut off valves are located where the water line enters the home. This is often in the garage, in the crawl space or near the front of the home. If you shut off water to the home, make sure to turn off the water heater to avoid damage.
The best way to handle a broken pipe emergency is to avoid having the emergency happen in the first place. Hopefully, these tips and ideas will help you prepare to enjoy a leak free winter.