You've probably heard the advice to leave sink cabinet doors open and let water drip through faucets on especially cold nights. While these straightforward steps can help keep your plumbing from freezing during the winter, they are not a replacement for proper winterization. Preparing your home's plumbing for frigid temperatures often requires extra attention before the temperatures plummet.
When water freezes in a pipe, it expands and potentially creates a blockage. The build-up of pressure behind the blockage can ultimately cause the pipe to burst, likely resulting in extensive water damage. Winterization can help prevent these and other plumbing disasters, but what items require attention in your home? Keep reading to find out.
1. Exposed Cold Water Supply Pipes
Freezing is the most significant threat to your cold water supply pipes. If you're concerned about the lines in your home, then evaluating the areas they pass through is an excellent first step. Pipes that run through unconditioned spaces or on the cold side of insulation face the greatest risk. Pipes underneath sinks can sometimes be vulnerable since the doors can act as a form of insulation.
The solution is straightforward: add insulation to pipes in exposed areas. Insulated pipes slow the transfer of heat to the surrounding environment, minimizing the risk of freezing in frigid temperatures.
2. Storage Water Heaters
If you have an older storage water heater, then it may not have integrated insulation. Since most water heaters live in unconditioned utility spaces or basements, they can lose significant amounts of heat to the surrounding air. Although the water in the tank is not at risk of freezing, the heater may need to run more often to maintain an adequate temperature.
As with pipes, dedicated parts exist for this project. You can buy an insulating blanket for your tank to reduce the potential for heat loss. Since the blanket may require cutting and special fitting to work, consider calling in a plumber for this job if you are not comfortable with do-it-yourself projects.
3. Exterior Faucets
Exterior faucets may be the most vulnerable plumbing item in your home since they face continuous cold weather exposure. To keep them from bursting, always close the interior valves and drain the pipes. You can also install insulation on these faucets for added protection. Although there shouldn't be water running through them in the winter, the insulation can help if the shutoff valve fails.
Plumbing winterization is an easy and cost-effective way to prevent damage to your home when the weather turns cold. Paying attention to these three items will help ensure that you can enjoy the winter months without worrying that a plumbing disaster is lurking around the corner. For more information on home winterization, contact a local plumber.