One of the worst parts about winter is that we have to worry about freezing pipes. We depend on functioning pipes to heat our water supply and keep our homes warm during the coldest months of the year. Unfortunately, many homeowners forget to do the preparations necessary to keep their pipes working. It isn’t uncommon for pipes to freeze and burst, leaving you with an expensive bill and a freezing cold home. Preparing your pipes for winter is a crucial step to take in making sure that you and you and your family stay warm all winter long.
Preparing Your Pipes for Winter
One of the main reasons it’s so important to prepare your pipes is that they’ll inevitably become cold as the temperature drops. Upon freezing, of course, water tends to expand. If the pipe is not in shape to deal with the expansion happening inside of it, you may find yourself dealing with a burst water pipe.
For this reason, it is crucial that you understand which of your pipes are most exposed to cold temperatures. That way, you’ll be able to take the steps necessary to prevent them from freezing.
Here are some steps you’ll want to take to prepare your pipes:
1. Locate the pipes that aren’t well-heated
Basements and garages usually aren’t as well-heated as other areas of the home. If you have water supply running to these parts of the house, you’ll need to make sure that the pipes are properly insulated through the winter.
2. Empty the pipes you won’t be using
Your swimming pool, sprinkler pipes, and hose lines are most likely going to be useless during the wintertime. Because they won’t have water running through them, you should empty the water from them so you don’t find a burst pipe when you try to run them in the spring.
3. Install pipe insulation
There are a number of products that can help you insulate your pipes in order to prevent them from bursting. Spray insulation foam can provide a layer around the pipes that will help to keep them from getting too cold. Other products like specialized sleeves, heat-tape and similar materials will act as a blanket for your pipes. If you don’t have access to these materials, you can use newspaper in a last-ditch effort to prevent burst water pipes.
4. Reroute pipe systems
Obviously, restructuring parts of the pipe network is not something that most people would be excited to do. It can be a costly process that involves taking down drywall. However, it is a surefire way to prevent a burst water pipe in the future. Usually, this process needs to be done in the summertime, far before the temperature drops and the snow starts to fall.
How to Prevent Burst Water Pipes
If for some reason you are unable to insulate the at-risk pipes in your home, there are still some basic steps you can take. Preparing your pipes for winter involves making sure that your house stays warm and that water continues to circulate.
- Make sure the doors stay shut. Unless you’re entering or leaving the house, keep your doors closed at all times. This includes garage doors. Allowing any cold air into the house is going to facilitate the pipe freezing process.
- Keep your faucet dripping. One thing you can do to prevent a burst water pipe is to make sure that the water doesn’t stop moving. If you leave your faucet dripping just a tiny bit, you’ll ensure that the water isn’t staying static. Therefore, it’s less likely to freeze.
- Run the heat at all times. Even if you’re leaving town for the holidays, maintain a temperature of at least 60° F inside your home. This might increase the cost of your heating bill, but it’ll be much less expensive than repairing a burst pipe.