It’s getting colder, and the temperatures will continue to drop until they reach the lows of January and February. If you haven’t yet taken steps to protect the plumbing of your home for the ice-cold season, now is definitely the time.
We know December is a busy month for most people, but preparing the plumbing in a house to avoid damage from frozen pipes and bursting is one of the most important jobs to have done for a home. And you don’t need to do it alone: a professional plumber in Bethesda, MD can help make the work easier and take care of tasks that may take special training and tools.
The Basics of Winterizing Your Plumbing
The amount of winterizing necessary for a home depends on how much time you’re going to spend in it during the season. If you have plans to leave the home vacant for long stretches (more than two weeks), you’ll need to do some additional work to prevent pipe freeze.
If you are going to be in your house most of the time, the first step to ensure the plumbing stays in good shape is—to keep the heating system running well! The furnace, boiler, or heat pump in your home is important for keeping both pipes and people warm. Should the heating system fail, pipes all over the house will be in danger of freezing. Schedule regular maintenance for the heater with our team (we’re home comfort experts as well as plumbing experts) so you have a reliable heating system.
Now make sure you have hoses disconnected from the outdoor hose bibs. The water in hoses will freeze in winter, and if the hoses are still connected to the bibs, the ice will go right into the plumbing and shatter the bibs. We also recommend putting insulating covers over the bibs and fully draining the water from them by shutting off the water valve running to each bib and then turning the faucet to allow the remaining water to flow out.
Make sure exposed pipes, such as those in unheated spaces like the garage and the basement, are insulated. You can purchase insulating sleeves for them, or ask for a professional plumbers’ assistance.
If you are planning to leave the house empty, you’ll want to fully drain the water from the plumbing system. Shut off the water main as well as the water heater. Open all the faucets and other taps in the house and drain them. Then leave the taps opens so pressure won’t build up inside the pipes while you’re gone. It’s this high pressure that leads to burst pipes.
Don’t turn off your home heating system completely when you leave: set the thermostat to at least 55°F. This isn’t warm enough for people, but it is warm enough for the pipes! Open up the interior doors in the house to allow the heat to spread evenly and reach all the pipes. We also recommend opening cabinet doors under sinks for airflow around drain pipes.