Winter is officially here – are you ready for it? Colder weather and cooler temperatures can cause problems for your home’s plumbing, especially in the pipes for your water system. If you live in a location where temperatures dip below freezing, it’s important to prepare your home and your water system for winter weather. Even if you live in a more temperate region, like the Central Valley towns of Modesto, Fresno, Stockton, or Tracy, California, there are important steps to take to prepare for winter weather. You don’t want to find yourself unprepared and potentially facing thousands of dollars in emergency pipe repairs. Read on to learn some easy steps you can take to be prepared for winter, and remember – if you need an expert’s guidance, you can always call the experienced plumbers at Plumbers 911!
What makes pipes freeze and break?
Contrary to some popular belief, pipes do not break due to ice forming around the outside of the pipe. Rather, frozen water inside the pipe is responsible for burst pipes. In freezing weather, the water inside the pipes expands, causing the water pressure to increase downstream between the faucet at the top and the ice blockage down below. The increase in water pressure is what causes pipe breakage. In general, pipes start freezing at 20°F and weather authorities suggest residents take action before cold weather hits their region.
Easy steps to take before winter:
- Locate your Shut-off Valve: Whether you live where there is freezing weather or not, it is critical that you know the location of your home’s water shut-off valve. If a pipe breaks, you want to immediately know where to shut off the water. Often, this is installed in the crawl space or basement, or on an outside wall in a utility area of the house.
- Insulate Vulnerable Water Pipes: Pipes inside unheated basements, near windows, and attached to exterior walls are the ones that will quickly freeze at the first sign of freezing temperatures. You will want to make sure these most vulnerable pipes are wrapped in insulation.
- Drain Water Sprinklers and Hoses: Before the first freezing temperatures hit your region, you will want to drain all water sprinklers and hoses, and also disconnect them from outdoor faucets. Turn off outdoor faucets and disconnect the hoses to ensure that they are fully drained. If your house has a water valve for the outdoor water supply, turn it off and totally drain the pipes and hoses, because any amount of freezing water can damage the pipes.
- Locate your Curb Stop Valve: You will also want to know where your home’s curb, or streetside, shut off valve is located so you can easily guide the plumbers if any plumbing emergency occurs. This valve is located at the beginning of your water main, at the boundary line of your property and the street or sidewalk. Look for a ground-level metal or plastic utility box trap door.
Easy Steps to Take During Winter:
- Keep it Flowing: To keep water molecules moving, and avoid freezing water inside pipes, keep one or two faucets slightly open. Keeping a faucet or two open greatly reduces the chance of freezing water inside pipes. Make sure that the water doesn’t go to waste by reusing this water for other household purposes.
- Keep it Shut: Keeping doors tightly shut through the winter will help prevent damage due to cold weather. Most importantly, keep garage doors tightly closed to minimize the freezing air from coming in and damaging vulnerable pipes. On the flipside, keeping cabinet doors open that lead to pipes such as those under sinks can keep them warm from the heater inside homes.
Even if you live in the Central Valley, and your area doesn’t usually experience freezing temperatures, it is important to be prepared for cold, inclement weather. Don’t be caught under-prepared! Follow the steps we outlined above to help your home and your water system make it through the winter. If you need help following these steps, do not hesitate to call Plumbers 911! If you are in Modesto, Fresno, Stockton, or Tracy, or any other Central Valley town, our licensed and experienced plumbers are available to you and can respond to your plumbing emergency in as little as an hour. There is no need to let winter weather get you down – call Plumbers 911 today!