Winter Plumbing Checklist

winter plumbing checklist

Winter is here and we have put together a few tips you can follow to ensure that your home's plumbing system is prepared to withstand the cold temperatures ahead.

If the temerpature stays in the subzero range for even a brief period of time, the risk of frozen pipes increases.  According to the the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), a frozen pipe that bursts results in an average of $5,000 worth of water damage. The Building Research Council at the University of Illinois tested home plumbing systems and found that, for un-insulated pipes located in an unheated attic, freezing happens when the outside temperature falls to just 20°F.

Before the severe cold weather sets in this winter there are steps you can take to ensure that your home's plumbing system is prepared for a deep freeze.

Improve Ventilation and Insulate Exterior Walls
Water pipes in garages, attics, near exterior walls, and in crawl spaces should be insulated to protect them them from extreme cold. Foam insulation sleeves designed for plumbing use can effectively slow the transfer of heat.

A common area for frozen pipes to occur is in the pipes below sinks that are against exterior walls. During extreme cold weather we recommend opening cabinet doors under sinks to allow warm air to circulate. It can also be helpful to add a vent opening to the baseboard under the sink to allow warm indoor air to circulate.

Inspect the foundation and exterior walls for cracks and gaps. Use caulk to seal any cracks or holes in outside walls that would allow cold air to reach inside walls.

Once the Temperature Drops
First, open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow indoor air to circulate warm air around the pipes.  Opening faucets (both hot and cold) to allow a trickle of water to flow can relieve pressure in the event that ice begins to form inside the pipe.

If Your Are Leaving Home During the Winter
If you're planning on being away home for an extended time during the winter, consider draining the water from the plumbing system. Also, remember to set the thermostat to at least 50 degrees in every area of your home.

New technology is also available that can help prevent damage from frozen pipes. For example, smart thermostats can be configured to send send a message to your phone in the event that the temperature in your home drops below a certain threshold. Water alarms can also alert you when it detects a drop in water pressure. Some of these alarms can automatically turn of the water supply.

If a Frozen Pipe Bursts
If you notice water leaking, or the water has stopped flowing to any area of the home, turn off the water supply at the water main. Everyone in the household should know where the water main is located and know how to shut it off in an emergency. Do not attempt to thaw frozen pipes using lighters, candles or a propane torch. This can damage the pipe and start a fire. Call Superior Plumbing and Heating. We will arrive quickly to safely thaw your pipes and lessen any potential damage to your home.
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