It is time to winterize your sprinkler system and to insulate the in-house pipes that were exposed to cool air. During the day when the outside temperature drops below the freezing point, you may choose to allow a very slow drip at the exposed faucets to prevent the pipes from being frozen.
Avoid Pipe Bursts
The same natural forces that trigger cold-weather breaks in a water utilities' underground mains can cause pipes to burst in your own household or business plumbing.
Before cold weather hits:
Know the location of your water shut-off switch and regularly test it. In case the worst happens and a pipe breaks, you won't want to wait for someone to arrive at your place to find it for you. In most single-family homes, the shut-off valve is in the basement or crawlspace on a wall facing the street.
Turn off and drain automatic and manual sprinkler systems before first freeze. You'll thank yourself in the spring. The freezing and thawing cycle can create cracks and weak spots in the sprinkler system, triggering silent underground leaks or mini-geysers.
Turn off outdoor faucets and be sure to disconnect hoses. Make sure the faucet and outside piping is fully drained. A valve inside many houses will shut off the water's flow. Disconnect the hose to assure that freeze-proof faucets will drain.
Winterize unheated or vacant buildings.Significant property damage and water loss can occur before burst pipes are discovered. Most susceptible are fire protection systems.
Insulate water pipes that may be vulnerable to the cold or have caused problems before.Pipes close to exterior walls or in unheated basements can be wrapped with pieces of insulation. Don't overlook pipes near windows, which can quickly freeze. For particularly difficult pipes, consult a professional on how to select and apply heat tape. Improper use can cause fires.
So take it from us: Don't fall into a winter cold snap unprepared. Prevent the property damage, repair bills and inconvenience of bursting household pipes
During a deep freeze (-5 degrees and below):
- Keep open cabinet doors leading to exposed pipes so that household air can warm them.
- The natural flow of warmer air will help combat problems.
- Keep attached garage doors shut. Occasionally, plumbing is routed there, leaving it vulnerable to winter's worst
- Crack a faucet farthest from the place where your water enters the house.
- A very slow drip will keep water molecules moving, reducing the chance that pipes will freeze. Don't forget to place a bucket underneath the faucet so the water can be saved for other household uses.
- Keep your thermostat set above 65 degrees when leaving your house or business for several days.
If you think a pipe has already frozen:
- Don't wait for nature to take its course: thaw the pipe as soon as possible or call a plumber for help.
- If you do it yourself, shut off the water or test the shut-off valve to make sure it works before beginning work.
- In thawing, slow is best.
- A hair dryer trained at the frozen area of the pipe is appropriate. A blow torch is not. Pipes that warm too fast can break anyway.