Plumbing Repair 101: Tips for Winterizing Your Home
Protect your Plumbing Pipes this Winter
We’ve all heard the horror stories about frozen pipes in the winter in Suffolk County – when water freezes into ice, it expands, putting pressure on the pipe and causing it to leak or even explode. If only your mother’s neighbor’s son-in-law had properly winterized his home, he could have avoided all that troublesome flooding, mold, and expensive remodeling. These upsetting stories are shared by word-of-mouth and meddlesome relatives because the bad outcomes truly are avoidable.
With a few simple, free or low-cost steps, you can prevent a world of headaches when those temperatures dip:
Insulate, insulate, insulate
Insulate your pipes: If you have pipes that face an external wall – these pipes are more vulnerable to freezing – consider wrapping them in insulation, using insulation sleeves or heat tape, or upgrading the insulation you currently have, if it’s past its prime.
Insulate your home: Likewise, you can insulate your walls more thoroughly, or add insulation to your attic, crawl space, or basement – any areas that may be unheated or underheated, causing pipes to get colder than they should.
Turn off the water and empty the valves and taps
If you are going out of town for a while, make sure you shut off the water supply to all outdoor valves and drain all the water from the pipes to prevent freeze-ups.
Disconnect outside valves: The garden hose spigot is one of the most common culprits for freeze-ups. Or, upgrade to frost-free spigots.
Replace older valves: Older shut-off valves have washers that can wear out, making it difficult to turn them off completely. We recommend replacing an older valve with a new ball valve.
To drip or not to drip? Flowing water is more difficult to freeze. That’s why pipes that haven’t been used in a while are more likely to burst in the winter than commonly used pipes. For this reason, some folks choose to leave their faucets on a continuous drip, since continuous flowing water prevents freezing. Of course, this is not a perfect long-term solution – depending on how long you’re gone, it can be wasteful and expensive.
Plan ahead for extended time away in the winter
If you plan to go on a longer vacation over the holidays or winter break, it’s a good idea to take winterizing your home’s plumbing to the next level. Extensive winterizing can be challenging if you’re not familiar with the process, but the experienced energy experts at Swezey Fuel are always happy to talk you through what’s necessary and what isn’t, given your situation. Some considerations for more thorough winterizing – say, if you’re visiting family overseas for a while – include:
Emptying your water heater and using antifreeze in the jet pump
Flushing all toilets until water is depleted
Using antifreeze in drains and drain traps, toilets, tubs, sinks and other vulnerable spots
Drying drained pipes by flushing them with an air compressor
Think long-term, beyond your immediate travel
Older style plumbing is more likely to freeze, and older pipes made from metals like steel or copper are more vulnerable to freezing than the plastic piping more common today. If you are remodeling, consider whether upgrading to more current pipes might be a good choice.
Likewise, sealing any areas of your home that warm air could escape through can keep your house warmer, even if you turn down the thermostat while you’re away.
Replace any cracked weather stripping or seals.
Caulk any cracks, gaps or holes that cold air could enter through, or warm air could escape from.
Swezey Fuel has your back –and your pipes – this cold season
Winterizing your New York home’s plumbing can be intimidating, but we’re here to help you decide what’s wisest for your specific situation. Our highly-trained plumbing experts can provide solutions for all your plumbing needs—from water-heater installations and equipment sales to sewer-line repair, sump pumps—even garbage-disposal installations and, of course, frozen pipes.