PREVENTING FROZEN PIPES
homeowners suffer from the destruction, frustration, and financial burden
caused by freezing and bursting water pipes.
Freezing can occur in any water pipe exposed to
temperatures of 32ºF or below. As freezing water expands, it generates enough
pressure to burst pipes and fixtures. When frozen pipes thaw, flooding can
occur and cause extensive damage. Pipes in garages, attics, crawl spaces, and
unheated rooms are particularly susceptible to freezing. Pipes in exterior
walls may also freeze with temperatures below freezing during severely cold
During the winter, winterization steps should be
followed. By taking a few simple precautions, you can avoid the frustration, destruction,
and expenses caused by frozen pipes. We recommend that you use this guide to help
prevent frozen pipes and protect your investment.
DID YOU KNOW?
An eighth-inch (three
millimeter) crack in a pipe can leak up to 250 gallons (946 liters) of water
per day. Both plastic (PVC) and copper pipes can burst.
BEFORE COLD WEATHER HITS
Your Shut-Off Valve Is – All
responsible household members should know where the home’s shut-off valve is
located prior to needing it for an emergency. Every home should be equipped
with a shut-off valve. Generally, a shut-off valve is located on the service
line on your side of the water meter, near the house. If you live in a condominium you may want to
leave your water dripping on very cold days. Moving water is less likely to
and Faucets – If you have pipes
in unheated areas, such as the garage or a crawl space under the house,
insulate them with items such as pipe wrap, foam jackets, or heat tape.
Insulating products are available at local hardware stores or building supply
retailers. Follow all manufacturers’ installation and operation instructions.
If you have questions, call a professional for help. While this is not a fail-safe option, it can prolong the amount of time that the temperature drops
and causes freezing.
Seal Off Air
Leaks – With cold winter winds,
a tiny opening can let in enough cold air to freeze a pipe. Look for leaks
around dryer vents, electrical wiring, and pipes. Use caulk or insulation to
keep the cold air out. Don’t cover or block air vents for your water heater or
furnace; proper ventilation is important for those items.
Shut Off and
Drain Outdoor Irrigation System
Irrigation systems to be shut off from
November 1st to April 1st.
1. Set the automatic irrigation controller to the “Off” setting.
2. Turn off water to the irrigation system at the stop and drain valve. Many
homes have separate stop and drain valves for the outdoor water supply. Make
sure the different valves are labeled so they are easy to identify.
3. Drain all water out of any irrigation components that might freeze. Some
systems may drain automatically.
4. Disconnect garden hoses from hose bibs.
Shut Off and
Drain Outdoor Plumbing
1. Shut off water to outside plumbing and exterior hose bibs. Outside plumbing
should be drained and exterior hose bibs should be cut off from the inside and
the water drained from the inside to the outside. This can be done by simply
opening the exterior hose bib and allow to drain.
2. Drain all water out
of the pipes by opening every faucet until the water stops running. After the
water has stopped, turn off the faucets. If water does not stop, go check the
shut-off valve to make sure it’s shut off all the way. If it continues to leak
you will need to replace the shut-off valve.
3. Flush Toilets in outside plumbing locations such as pool houses.
4. Pour biodegradable anti-freeze into all toilet bowls and sinks to displace
water in the drain pipes. Carefully follow manufacturers’ instructions and
always store in a child and pet proof location. We recommend using an RV
(recreational vehicle) antifreeze. This is designed not to hurt your plumbing.
5. Open the hot water drain valve on exterior unprotected plumbing. This is
usually located at the low point of the water heater. If you choose to drain
your hot water tank, turn off the gas or electric supply to the heater. If you
do not do this the water heater will try to heat and burn up the interior of
the heater tank.
ALTERNATIVE FREEZE PREVENTION
Instead of draining your unprotected plumbing
water system, you may heat the area to avoid freezing pipes. However, leaving
the thermostat at 45 to 55 degrees does NOT always ensure that the pipes will
not freeze. Winter storms may cause power outages, which will cause some
heating systems to shut off, resulting in frozen pipes.
If you do not have interior shut-off valves for
your exterior hose bibs you can also install an insulated cover over the
exterior hose bib. While this is not a guarantee against freezing again it
slows the temperature change and may get you through a cold spell. These can be
purchased from a local DIY store for less than $2.00.
IF YOUR PIPES FREEZE
- If you turn on the
faucets and nothing comes out, call a plumber to evaluate the situation.
- Open all faucets in
the house. When water freezes, it expands by 1/5th its
original volume. By relieving pressure, due to the expanding water, you
may avoid additional pipe damage.
- Once your pipes have
thawed, it is important that you carefully inspect your home for any
signs of a leak. The freezing of the pipes could have caused a pinhole
leak, hairline break, or large crack.
- If you have winterized
your exterior hose bibs, when you turn them on next spring you need to
review the areas to make sure no freezing of residual water in the pipes
that did not drain has not frozen. Listen for a “hissing” noise which
indicates broken line spraying water in the walls, calking or under
floors. Look for water staining on sheetrock.
- If you hear this or
notice a water leak, call a plumber immediately and cut off the water to
your home or unit.
- If you have winterized
an exterior unprotected water source or pool house, you need to be aware
that there is still the potential for the residual water in the lines to
have frozen and cause a break in the piping. Again if you find a break,
turn off the water and call a plumber immediately.
is the most destructive item in your home. When a home catches on fire, it is usually
the water used to put it out that causes most of the interior damage. It
flows down to the lowest point - and if you are in a condominium it flows down
to your neighbor.
Be Water Wise and Winterize!