When a bad winter storm is in the forecast you don’t want to scramble to make sure your house is ready for the freezing weather. One preventative step you don’t want to overlook is winterizing pipes. Especially if you are leaving a building vacant over winter, not winterizing the pipes can cause a lot of damage, leave a big mess, and result in high repair costs. Learn what steps you can take to prevent pipes from freezing in your home and how to winterize pipes in a vacant building.
Why Do I Need to Winterize Pipes?
Winterizing pipes prepares them for freezing temperatures. This generally includes adding insulation to outdoor pipes and taking steps to prevent indoor pipes from freezing. It is particularly important to winterize pipes in any buildings that will be vacant over winter, such as a cabin or seasonal business. Pipes that freeze are at risk of it bursting, which can cause significant damage to your home and be expensive to repair.
How to Winterize Pipes in Your House When You’re Still Living in the Home
Here are a few things you can do to help prevent pipes from freezing during a brutal cold snap while you are still living or working in your home or other building:
- Insulate pipes: Locate pipes in your attic or crawl space to insulate. You can also wrap pipes in heat tape or heat cables with thermostat control. The best pipe insulation for your situation will depend on your home and where your pipes are located.
- Seal or caulk cracks: Look for cracks that might let cold air vent in. Pay attention to where pipes or vents run from inside to outside, such as dryer vents or water pipes.
- Protect outdoor fixtures: Preventing frozen pipes should be done outdoors as well. As you winterize your home, disconnect your garden hoses. Be sure your cut-off values are closed and faucets are drained.
- Drip water: During periods of extreme cold, start a small drip of both hot water and cold water in the kitchen, bath, laundry areas, and any other faucets in your house. A small water drip is all that is needed to keep water moving through the system and prevent frozen pipes. You may also want to keep the cabinet doors open for airflow.
- Check in: If you’re planning to be away from home for more than a few days, you may want to ask a friend or neighbor to check periodically to make sure all is okay.
- Keep the heat on: It may be tempting to turn the heat down (or off) when you’re not home, but this can actually put your pipes at risk. Keep the heat set to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent freezing.
How to Winterize Pipes in a Vacant Building
If you have a summer cabin or a seasonal business and the building will be left vacant during the winter there are a few extra steps you need to take:
- Drain the pipes: Turn off the water to the building and open all of the faucets. This will allow any remaining water in the pipes to drain out so that it can’t freeze.
- Add insulation: Once the pipes are empty, add insulation around them. This will help to keep them from freezing. You can also add antifreeze to fixtures for better chances of preventing damage.
- Turn off the power: If there is no heat source in the building, turn off the power to prevent any potential fires.
- Perform occasional checks: If possible, you or someone near the building should check every few weeks to make sure there has been no damage.
Turn to Professionals to Winterize Pipes for You
If you are unsure about how to winterize pipes in your home or you don’t have the time to do it thoroughly, it is best to call in a professional. Plumbers will be able to help you take the necessary steps to protect your pipes and prevent frozen or burst pipes this winter.