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Winterizing Water Pipes: How To Keep Them Freeze-Free

Frozen, burst water pipes are a nightmare. Not only do they cause flooding and other serious water problems, but they also leave structural damages on the flooring, basement, and some parts of the house. Winter, by all means, is not friendly to plumbing and pipes, and if they are not winterized, you are likely to spend some amount for costly repairs. Save your pipes from winter damages, and do the following steps in winterizing water pipes.

1. Shut off the water system if you are leaving the house for a while. Turn on the indoor faucets and showers to drain. Then, remove water from toilet tanks. You can use an air compressor to siphon all remaining water from the lines. Scoop out water from toilet bowls, and add antifreeze solution to the residual water. Next, focus on the outside plumbing. Turn off the shut-off vent, which in some houses are located in the basement, and turn on the outdoor faucets to drain. When the faucets are all on, go back to the vent and turn the plug to drain the remaining water. Do not forget to drain the in-ground sprinkler as well. When you are sure there is no longer water that can possibly freeze and burst the pipes, turn the plug back and turn off all the faucets.

2. Insulate water pipes, especially those that are exposed and are in unheated areas (garage, basement, and crawl spaces). You can use insulating tape, a heat-producing electrical cord, to cover the pipes. Use the same material to wrap outdoor faucets. In place of insulating tape, you can use fiberglass insulation, molded foam rubber sleeves, rags, or plastic.

3. Let the faucet on and allow water to run. Do this particularly when the temperature hits below freezing point. Although this can add to your water bill, you can reduce the likelihood of having frozen pipes by keeping the water moving. No need for a torrential stream; tiny water drips are sufficient.

4. Replace or seal broken pipes early on. Nothing guarantees winter freeze damage better than cracked and worn out pipes, so do an early inspection. Also, make sure to caulk around the pipes to prevent leaks.

5. Regularly monitor your water flow. In case, there is no water in some parts of the house, check if there is a frozen pipe anywhere in your basement, in the crawl space, or under the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. When you have located the frozen pipe, use a hair dyer to blow heat to the pipe. Do not use an open flame. If there is no water in the entire house, call a plumber to spot leaks and frozen pipes in your city water service.

Do not overlook the pipes. Just as you need winter coats and mittens to survive the winter, your pipes need to be prepared for the coming cold. Whether it is your weekend home or main house, make sure to winterize your water pipes. For more help in winterizing water pipes, contact your trusty plumber.


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