Written on: December 6, 2021
We all know what happens when water freezes – it expands. And guess what isn’t meant to expand? That’s right – your plumbing. The last thing you want to welcome you home to New York after vacation is a flooded house and a burst pipe. Fortunately, this nightmare is avoidable with a few proactive winterization tweaks.
You likely already have insulation in your house, but if you are about to leave town during the colder months, it’s a good time to beef-up your insulation, especially around your exposed pipes. Simple upgrades like wrapping your pipes, insulating the plumbing along any outside-facing walls, or adding additional insulation throughout your home, can make all the difference.
Likewise, you’ll want to prevent cold air from sneaking inside and warm air from escaping while you’re gone. Replace worn weather stripping, seal gaps or cracks with caulk, close your draftiest vents, and cover your windows with high-quality drapes or blinds.
Some experts recommend turning all your water off, while others advise that you should let your faucets drip while you’re gone. The rationale is the same for both tips: the bottom line is, you don’t water hanging out, stagnant, in your pipes. Letting the water flow, even at a drip, can keep the pipes warm, since flowing water is less likely to freeze.
Of course, if there isn’t any water in the pipes, there’s nothing to freeze, right? Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Even though your water is turned off, there’s no guarantee that some water won’t be left behind, or sneak in one way or another – it happens. For this reason, it’s a good idea to turn the faucets to ON, so that any water that does enter the pipes will flow out, instead of pooling. Be sure to turn the water off outside, though – especially if you have a hose spigot attached to your indoor plumbing.
It makes total sense to turn your heat down to save money on energy expenses while you’re out of town. After all, you won’t be around to enjoy the warm comfort of home. But don’t go overboard by shutting of your heat off altogether. Even if your home is set at a low temperature that’s not quite freezing, your pipes could still freeze, especially if there is snow or ice on the ground outside, or if you have areas of your home that are less insulated, such as an unfinished basement.
There’s a big gray area between “warm and toasty” and “could freeze a popsicle,” so choose a modest temp, and you’ll still save on your energy bill.
Most vacations are only a week or two, but if you’ll be traveling all season during the colder months, you may want a longer-term approach to winterizing. Some examples of trips that may require more thorough winterization include:
Planning for a long stretch away from home can include more ambitious winterizing techniques, like pouring antifreeze in your drains and sinks, turning the water off, and draining water from toilets, water heaters and other appliances that hold water. Such heavy-duty winterizing can be more complicated, but don’t worry. Contact us and our professional energy and plumbing experts are here and ready to help.
You can become a customer today. Our Swezey plumbing experts are standing by to walk you through the winterization process, or help you select which winterizing methods work well with the heating system in your Suffolk County, NY home.