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Green Homes & Businesses

Winterizing Your Pipes

Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on your pipes during the winter season. There are simple things you can do to prevent the high cost of repairs and water loss due to burst pipes. A little preparation now really can help save our most precious resource, as well as save you money.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Any time the weather drops to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, there is a potential for water lines inside and outside your home to freeze.
  • If you see water coming from unknown sources inside or outside your home during a period of cold weather, it’s probably a burst or damaged water pipe.
  • Insulating pipes is an important way to prevent pipes from freezing during these times of cold weather.
  • Keeping water lines dry and free of leaks is another important way to keep pipes from freezing.

GOOD TO DO

How to Prepare

Indoor 

  • Locate your emergency water shut-off valve. This will allow you to quickly turn off the water in the event of a burst pipe. Most shut-off valves are located in the crawl space, basement, garage, or outside near the foundation. If you have trouble finding your shut-off valve, contact a plumber.
  • Insulate exposed pipes and replace any leaks or wet insulation you find during your inspection.
  • Eliminate drafts from cracks, vents, windows, or doors especially in areas near your pipes.
  • Make sure pipes in unheated areas of your home are well insulated.

Outdoor

  • Disconnect and drain garden hoses, automatic sprinklers and rain barrels. If there is a separate shut-off valve for outdoor faucets, turn it off and drain faucets until they run dry. Typically this type of shut-off value will be found in the basement or crawl space.
  • Check your water meter box cover at the road. If it is missing or broken, call your city or county water utility for repair service.
  • Wrap outside faucets with insulating pipe wrap and cover with a foam cap to keep the wrapping dry.
  • Close foundation vents or cover with foam blocks, thickly folded newspaper, or cardboard.

During Times of Freezing Weather

  • If you choose to drip your faucets, pick a single faucet at the highest level in your house or furthest from the water meter. Droplets only need ot be about the size of the lead in a pencil. You’ll only waste money (and water) if you leave the faucet wide open.
  • Occasionally open cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathroom to allow pipes behind the walls and under the floors to get additional heat from inside your house.

How to Deal with Frozen Pipes:

  • If you see water leaking from an unknown source, it’s likely a pipe has burst and you need to immediately turn off the emergency water shut-off valve. If the water appears to be flowing from a source nearer to the road, call your city or county water utility.
  • If you lose all water to your home, the problem may be at the meter. Contact your city or county water utility.
  • Never try to thaw frozen pipes with an open flame! Not only is this dangerous, it’s a fire hazard as well.
  • To find out if you have a frozen pipe, turn on faucets around your home. If some faucets work and others don’t, you likely have a frozen pipe inside the home.
  • Use a hair dryer to safely thaw pipes – carefully. Thawing a frozen pipe can be dangerous.  Pipes may become damaged or cracked, leading to a burst pipe. Start in the area nearest the faucet and move the hair dryer back and forth in 12 to 16 inch sections. As the pipe thaws, water will begin to flow from the affected tap until it is running at normal speed.
  • Once a pipe is thawed, drip the faucet to prevent refreezing.


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