Winter months bring freezing temperatures that can cause serious damage to metal and plastic pipes. When water pipes burst, they can cause significant damage to your home. Here are several precautionary steps that you can take to help avoid problems with your plumbing during the winter months:
- Know where your main water shutoff valve is located so you can quickly turn it off in case of an emergency.
- Before freezing temperatures hit, make sure that your irrigation system has been properly winterized. Turn off the system at the main valve and open each zone valve until the entire system drains of water. After the system is drained, close each valve and leave the system shut off until spring.
- Disconnect garden hoses and insulate all outdoor faucets (hose bibs).
- Heat tape can be used to wrap interior and exterior pipes. Be sure to use products that are designed and approved for the intended use (indoor or outdoor), and closely follow all manufacturers' installation and operation instructions.
- Insulate exposed water pipes in the basement, attic, and crawl space.
- Never set the thermostat in your house lower than 55°F in order to prevent frozen pipes.
- Open cabinet doors under sinks and appliances near exterior walls to keep pipes warm.
- Seal any leaks that allow cold air inside. Air leaks may be found around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to keep cold air out. During extreme temperatures, even a small opening can let enough cold air in to cause a pipe to freeze.
- Thaw frozen lines with a hair dryer, heater, or heat tape. Never use a torch or open flame and never use electrical appliances in areas of standing water.
If you feel uncomfortable performing any of these recommendations, call a licensed plumber. More tips and resources for frozen pipe prevention can be found online.