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Preparing for Winterization
There two different approaches for attempting to winterize your plumbing. One is winterizing the house when it is going to be left absent, however you should consider this every season regardless, as you want to prepare for the cold weather as you’re still living in it!
The first obvious water supply to consider is the outside hose pipe. This should be drained and closed to protect the tap outside from bursting during cold weather. Another target areas are cold rooms. Even if they meant to be cold, there are still plumbing pipes running through them. Most of the time cold rooms are located at the front of the house and main water service pipe comes through it. In this case it is very important that there still be a minimal amount of heat getting to the room and to least ensure the temperature does not drop below 0 Celsius. It is common for plumbing pipes to freeze behind the drywall during cold weather events on both the first and second floors. This is normally a problem with the insulation job that was done and should be addressed at the time of renovation. If freezing is regularly happening we recommend opening the wall at problem areas and insulate affected pipes.
The danger of a freezing pipe is that when the water freezes it expands and can burst the pipe and this can lead of major damage to the house. A quick temporary solution is to keep water running in one of the taps when weather is coldest…even it running just a little will help keep the pipes from freezing.
If the house has a sump pump it is very important to protect the discharge pipe from freezing. Pipe should be properly slopped, stay at least half a foot higher than the ground and the end should be frequently checked and cleared of any ice build up.
Steps for Winterizing Your Plumbing
If you will be leaving your home for an extended period of time the following steps should be followed:
- Open all drain valves and all taps. A closed tap could create a vacuum that will hold water inside of pipes and make sure to leave them open all winter (you aren’t there)
- Shut off the main water valve, turn off the water pump and the water heater. No water in the water heater can cause damage to operating heating elements.Blow excess standing water out of the pipes using an air compressor
- Check all sink and tub drains that could have drain traps. Add some antifreeze on each one of them to prevent water from freezing in the traps.
- Open the drain valve in your hot water tank and let it discharge until it is empty.
- Drain all the water that is left in the holding tank. Add antifreeze to the jet pump case.
- Flush toilets to remove as much water as you can from the tanks and the toilet bowls.
How to Prevent Freezing Pipes
The most important thing to do first is determine which pipes in your home are the most vulnerable to freezing. Pipes near walls, located outside and near unheated spaces are places to look. Also check for any cracks or openings in walls and windows, and uninsulated pipes.
Be sure to follow these tip to winterize your plumbing:
- While inspecting the exterior of your home and find any gaps or cracks use caulking or spray foam to keep cold air from entering your house
- A slowly dripping can in some cases prevent freezing; moving water is that much more resistant to freezing in pipes.
- Insulate crawl spaces; block all vents that lead to the outside using cardboard or wood.
- Insulate pipes with insulation sleeves, wrapping or slip-on foam pipe insulation. Plastic piping is more tolerant of freezing than older metal pipes.
- Additional heading sources inside the building can protect pipes against cold. One tip is to keep your kitchen and bathroom drawers and cupboards open, this will allow heat from the house to get in behind cabinetry and bring some heat to piping.
- Heat tape can be useful; it is one of the preferred methods for winterizing plumbing