The temperatures are dropping in Denver, and one thing that often needs to be considered during the winter months is how to best protect your home’s plumbing systems from the cold weather. Pipes freezing in the winter is a common problem that homeowners encounter and can cause severe damage if not taken care of properly. For instance, when pipes freeze, they expand, leading to rupture and a need for repair. Here are a few ways to winterize your plumbing system and prevent that from happening.
Insulate Your Pipes
As a homeowner, you already know the types of pipes in your plumbing system that are vulnerable when exposed to cold weather. Insulating your pipes is one of the best ways to winterize your plumbing systems. This will help prevent them from freezing, which can cause significant damage. No parts or gaps of the pipes should be left open since cold air can significantly affect the pipes in these areas. There are various ways to insulate your pipes. The most effective approach will depend on the type of pipe and the insulation required. For example, foam pipe insulation is typically used on hot water pipes while fiberglass or mineral wool insulation is more effective for cold water pipes. However, you are required to take additional measures to wrap the pipes in electric heating tape.
Seal Exterior Wall Cracks
Sealing cracks or openings in your home’s exterior walls is critical to preventing costly damage from freezing temperatures. Even tiny cracks can allow cold air to seep in and cause pipes to freeze. To winterize your plumbing system, start by inspecting the exterior of your home for any damages or openings. Once you’ve located the problem areas, seal them with caulk or expanding foam insulation. Be sure to seal the inside and outside of the walls and any gaps around doors and windows. For huge cracks or crevices, you may need to use plywood or sheet metal to create a more substantial barrier. These simple steps can help prevent cold weather from wreaking havoc on your plumbing system.
Open the Faucets to Drip
One simple but effective measure to weatherize your plumbing system when the temperature is dropping is to let your faucets drip during cold weather. This helps prevent your pipes from freezing, which can lead to costly repairs. To do this, open your faucets slightly and let them drip slowly throughout the day. This will help reduce the pressure inside your pipes, making them less likely to freeze.
Open Cabinets Under Your Sink
One of the most important things you can do to winterize your home is open up the cabinets under your sinks. This may seem like an odd thing to do, but it’s pretty helpful. Opening up the doors to your cabinets allows warmer air to circulate the pipes, helping to prevent them from freezing. You can also use a space heater in your cabinets to keep the air warm.
Seal Off Your Crawl Space
If you have a crawl space, it’s essential to take measures to winterize it before the cold weather sets in. Most homes have an opening to the crawl space under the floorboards or in the basement. This opening allows cold air to enter and can cause the pipes in the crawl space to freeze. Start by inspecting the area to ensure there are no cracks or openings where cold air can enter. If you find any, seal them with caulk or weatherstripping. You can also seal off the space with a vapor barrier. Once the area is well-sealed, cover the ground with a thick layer of insulation. This will help prevent warm air from escaping into the crawl space and keep moisture and temperature fluctuations from causing problems with your plumbing system.
Keep the Heat On
One of the best ways to winterize your plumbing is to keep the heat on in your home, even when you’re away. Turning the heat off will not save you money, but it could cost you a lot more in the long run. If the temperature in your home dips below freezing, it can cause your pipes to freeze and burst. And even if your pipes don’t explode, the water inside them can expand and crack the pipe. Whether you are heading out of town for a few days or going on an extended vacation, it’s always best to keep the heat in your home. You can set the thermostat to a lower temperature, but as long as it stays above freezing, you should be able to avoid any problems with your plumbing.
Shut Off the Main Valve
If you’re going to be away from home for more than a day or so, one of the most important things you can do is to shut off the water at the main valve. This will prevent any water from entering your home, which could freeze and cause damage. It would help if you drained all of the water from your pipes by opening up all the faucets and letting them run until they are empty. You can also consider using an air compressor to help blow out all the excess water in the plumbing system. This will help prevent any residual water from freezing and causing damage to your plumbing system.
Disconnect Any Outdoor Hoses
One of the simplest things you can do is to disconnect any hoses from outdoor pipes and make sure that the hoses and outdoor spigots are empty. After all, plumbing isn’t limited to indoor pipes, and outdoor pipe damage can still pose issues for your home. Double-check and ensure that any other outdoor valves and sprinklers are also drained, and if possible, store them away for the winter.
Flush the Toilet
You can consider flushing your toilets to winterize your plumbing system at the onset of the cold weather. This will clear out any residual water in the bowl or tank, which could freeze and cause the toilet to crack. Consequently, you can pour a gallon of water into the bowl to fill the trap and prevent gases from escaping. Even if you’ll be around throughout the season, similarly to letting your faucets drip, it’s a good idea to flush the toilets throughout your home regularly.
One way to winterize your plumbing system if you’re going to be away from home is to use antifreeze. Antifreeze is a substance that prevents freezing by lowering the freezing point of water, and it can help keep your pipes from being damaged and bursting in the winter months. When adding antifreeze to your plumbing system, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and be sure that you only use nontoxic antifreeze. It would help if you were also sure to check the antifreeze level in your system regularly as it can evaporate over time.
The cold weather can cause severe problems for your plumbing if you’re not prepared. Therefore, winterizing your plumbing systems is an essential maintenance task that can help you avoid costly repairs down the road. Don’t hesitate to contact us at High 5 Plumbing if you have any questions, need assistance with your winterization project, or need drain cleaning and installation and plumbing repair and maintenance services.