Every fall season, every Minnesotan knows it’s time to prepare for the long, cold winter months. You had your furnace checked out and it’s working fine. You’ve got good lighting outside on those walkways. Maybe you added insulation in your attic to keep your home nice and comfortable. But, have you prepared your home’s plumbing system for winter? Here’s what to know.
Winterizing Outdoor Plumbing
The first thing you want to do is prepare your outdoor plumbing. Disconnect any garden hoses you have outside and store them for winter. Freezing, expanding water can ruin your garden hoses. Next on your checklist is to shut off outdoor spigots at their shutoff valves. To drain any water still in the pipe, turn off the faucet and then the bleeder cap at the shutoff valve. If water continues to drip with the bleeder cap open, the shutoff valve should be replaced.
Install Heat Cables
It’s important to install heat cables to any vulnerable pipes you have to prevent freezing. If water does freeze in vulnerable pipes, the ice may expand to the point that the pipes crack. When the ice melts, you’ve got a water damage problem on your hands.
Heat cables are a fantastic solution for this potential problem. Using an integral thermostat which monitors temperature, the heat cables switch on and off to prevent freezing water and pipes. You can find heat cables at any home improvement shop, or have your plumbing professional install them for you.
Insulate Pipes Vulnerable To Freezing
Any plumbing pipes located in your unconditioned attic and basements, crawl space, and/or garage are going to be vulnerable to freezing. After you’ve installed heat cables, insulate these vulnerable pipes with pipe insulation. If you install insulation without heat cables, you may actually be preventing heat from reaching the pipes. Heat cables are still required for a 100% freeze-prevention.
Away From Home? Shut The Water Off
If you’re planning to be away from home for more than a day, you certainly don’t want to return to a home that has sustained water damage due to ruptured pipes. To prevent this, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve. You’ll have far less water damage if pipes do freeze and crack while you’re away. Turn off any automatic icemaker on the refrigerator, too. You can burn out the motor if it continually tries to make ice without any water.
When Cold Weather Hits
If you’re in the practice of lowering temperatures in your home at night to save energy, consider keeping temperatures warmer when cold weather hits. This may mean adjusting a programmable thermostat or smart thermostat you have installed at your home.
Further, open cabinet doors to allow heat to reach vulnerable kitchen pipes. Closed kitchen cabinets can block heat, and if temperatures dip low enough, you could have a problem.
Lastly, check your water heater. Make sure the Temperature & Pressure Relief (T&PR) valve isn’t leaking. Make sure the water heater itself isn’t leaking anywhere, which would suggest it needs to be replaced. Look for rust spots. It’s better to have your water heater checked by a professional than risk it rupturing during cold weather or anytime.
If you need help winterizing your home’s plumbing system, call a real plumbing professional. Call MN Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Water Cleanup for your plumbing needs, so you can avoid any water damage cleanup later! Call (320) 207-1079 or contact us online today!