With temperatures starting to drop, it is a good idea to start thinking about the steps you need to take to winterize your home. It is recommended to winterize your home before the first freeze of the year. Whether it’s a rental you own, a vacation property you’ll be abandoning for the winter or just the place you call home every day, you should take steps to winterize before it’s too late. But what do you need to do to winterize your home? Here, we will get into why it is important to winterize your house and what steps need to be taken to winterize.

Water will expand when it freezes and becomes ice. This expansion causes pressure within pipes, which can lead to extensive damage. Winterizing plumbing is especially recommended when a house will be vacant for a long period of time and no water will be running through the pipes.

Winterizing An Empty Home

  • Shut off your main water valve, including the water pump and water heater.  This action protects heating elements in your water heater when there is no water inside the tank.
  • Open all drain valves and taps.  If left closed, your pipe could create a vacuum that would hold water inside of the pipes.  You do not want this!  If water sits in your pipes, it could freeze and crack the pipes.  Make sure that all valves and taps remain open throughout the cold winter months.
  • Use an air compressor to blow out any excess water that may be standing in your pipes.
  • Open your hot water tank’s drain valve, and let it discharge until completely empty.
  • Drain any water left sitting in the holding tank.  This includes the one located in the rubber diaphragm.  You may also want to add antifreeze to the jet pump case as an added protective measure.
  • Flush your toilets to remove as much water as possible from the tanks and bowls.  If water is still left, add antifreeze to prevent it from freezing and cracking.
  • Check all sink and tub drains.  Some have drain traps.  Add antifreeze on each one, again, to ensure water won’t freeze and crack.

Winterizing Your Current Home or Rental Property

While it’s very important to ensure that the pipes are in good condition at any properties you won’t be visiting during the winter, it is equally important to make sure that your own home’s pipes are in good condition.

  • Leave the faucet dripping slightly during the coldest time of the day or night. The steadily moving water will keep the pipes slightly above the freezing point and prevent them from freezing. No one wants to waste water, but it is better than dealing with burst pipes.
  • Open the cabinet doors to allow the heated air from the room to reach pipes inside the cabinet.
  • Insulate past problem pipes with foam insulation wrap, especially those that run through unheated spaces. Note: Insulation merely slows the transfer of heat and will not prevent a pipe from freezing if the surrounding air is cold enough.
  • Heat unheated areas with a permanent heater, just to keep the temperature above freezing, or about 50 degrees F. Warning: Do not use portable heaters, which should never be left running unattended.
  • Remove garden hoses attached to outdoor faucets (hose bibs or sillcocks). If the faucet is not a frost-proof type, turn off the water to the faucet inside the house and drain the exterior section of the pipe and faucet.
  • Keep your home constantly heated.
  • Insulate exposed pipes (especially those made of copper or steel) with insulation.  You can use insulation sleeves, slip-on foam pipe insulation or simply wrap them.  Whatever you do, don’t leave any gaps uninsulated because the cold air can and will affect your pipes in these spaces.  And don’t forget about those hose spigots.
  • Insulate all crawl spaces, and block all vents that may lead to the outside of your home to prevent warm air from leaking out and cold air from creeping in.

Additional Tips to Keep Your Home Warm

Here are some extra tips to keep your house warm during the cold spells, hopefully saving you some money on your heating costs!

  • Clean your gutters. Ice dams can form if your gutters are clogged. Ice dams occur when water backs up and freezes near the edge of the roof. This will cause water to begin pooling and could seep into your house, causing water damage. To prevent ice dams, clean out the dead leaves and other gunk in your gutters so water can drain freely.
  • Reverse ceiling fans. Every ceiling fan has a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of the blades. You want your ceiling fan blades to turn clockwise. This will help warm air recirculate throughout the room. Don’t forget to make the switch again when it starts to warm up!
  • Insulate your windows. There are a few ways to do this. You can buy a kit from a local hardware store, use blankets or quilts or even use bubble wrap! Just spray water across the window and stick the wrap bubble side down across the glass, cut to whatever shape you need.
  • Insulate your electrical outlets. Small foam cutouts from a hardware store can help reduce the loss.

Hopefully, these tips can help keep you warm and your pipes intact. If you need help with winterizing your plumbing, or if you’ve suffered from cracked pipes, give Heil Plumbing a call. We can provide winterizing services for you so you can take the guess work out.

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