Temperatures across Maryland and the DC area are dropping below freezing and so it’s time for a refresher on how to winterize your plumbing! So when do pipes freeze? As you may already know, your home’s plumbing is especially susceptible to damage when the temperature is below 32 degrees. That’s because when water freezes, it expands. And when the water freezes in your pipes and fixtures, your pipes and fixtures can burst resulting in leaks. Are you sure your home is ready for cold weather? Here are three things to check before the frigid air sets in.
How to Winterize Your Plumbing
Drain Hose Bib
1. Shut off and drain your hose bibs: One of the most common plumbing leaks we service is leaking hose bibs, aka outside faucets or silcocks. The outside faucet is almost guaranteed to freeze and break when exposed to a few days of sub 32-degree weather. Many homeowners don’t even notice they have a leaking hose bib until the spring. You can avoid the same fate. Simply turn the valve off that leads to the hose bib and drain the water (this is not the same as your emergency water shut off valve). Keep reading or watch our “drain hose bib” video.
A. Find the outside faucet valve. The valve will be inside the house, most commonly on the wall or ceiling closest to where the hose bib is located.
B. Shut off the water to the valve. Turn the valve either clockwise if it’s a turn valve or perpendicular to the pipe if it’s a ball valve.
C. Drain the water. Now go outside and turn the hose bib on. Let the water run until there is no more water in the pipe. Then turn the faucet off.
If you find that you’ve got yourself a broken hose bib, we would recommend that you replace it with a frost-proof hose bib. Frost-proof hose bibs are designed in a way that cuts off the water inside the house. This reduces the chances that freezing ice will destroy your hose bib.
Insulating Pipes on Exterior Walls
2. Make sure your pipes are properly insulated: Another frequent source of pipe leaks caused by cold weather is pipes that are poorly protected from the cold. Drafty areas of the house are vulnerable to temperature fluctuations. If you have plumbing pipes that are installed along the outside wall of your house, make sure the area is well insulated. If you have pipes that have frozen before, we strongly recommend that you have a plumber install heat tape to the area.
Prevent Pipes from Freezing: Keep the Heat On
3. Keep the heat on: It may be tempting to save a few dollars by turning the heat off. However, pipes that leak from bursting open due to frigid temperatures can cause thousands of dollars in damage. If you want to prevent pipes from freezing, keeping the heat on should always be part of the strategy. In chilly climates always set your thermostat to at least 60 degrees. Even when you are out of town, make sure that your house isn’t too frosty. For extended times away, you should also have a friend check in on your property on a weekly basis to ensure everything is operating properly.
Heil Plumbing is a family-run company owned by a third-generation master plumber. We can help you with a full range of plumbing services, including toilet installation and repair, leak detection and pipe repair, water heater repair and installation, faucet repair and installation, drain cleaning, water treatment services, and more.
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