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How to Winterize Plumbing Pipes

How to Winterize Plumbing Pipes


How to Winterize Plumbing Pipes

Ruptured pipe due to cold weather

Photo © Snowpeak

How to Winterize Plumbing Pipes

Winterizing plumbing pipes is a process that prepares all rough-in so it is not affected by freezing temperatures that can cause disasters inside a house. This process is recommended when the house will be vacant for a long period of time, so no water will be running through the plumbing pipes. So let’s learn how to winterize plumbing pipes. It is important to highlight that is not the actual expansion of the ice the actual costs of pipes being cracked, is the pressure resulting from this expansion. Prepare a plant on how and where to start. It is easy to skip a step so you might want to draft a checklist to have all parts of the house worked. To start the winterize process you need to empty the water heater, drain all water from the pipes and fill all fixtures with anti-freeze solution.

Winterize Plumbing Pipes Steps

Follow these stpes to winterize plumbing pipes in a house:

  1. Shut off main water valve and turn off the water pump and the water heater. By doing this you will also be protecting heating elements so they are not working if there is no water inside the tank.
  2. Open all drain valves and all taps too. Follow the list you have created so you are sure all taps are open. A closed tap could create vacuum holding water in the pipe. All valves and taps should remain open throughout all the winter so any water can drain out from the pipe.
  3. Using air compressors blow excess water standing in the pipes.
  4. Open the drain valve in your water tank and let it discharge until it is empty. Be careful, because sometimes these hot water tanks don’t have floor drains and you will need to connect a garden hose to it.
  5. Drain all the water that is left inside the holding tank, especially the one located in the rubber diaphragm, the one that is used along with the water tank to build our pressure. As an additional protective measure, add antifreeze to the jet pump case.
  6. Flush the toilet to remove as much water as you can from the tank and the toilet bowl. If all water cannot be removed, add antifreeze to prevent any water from freezing and cracking the toilet.
  7. Check all sink and tub drain that could have waste water traps. Add some antifreeze on each one of them to prevent water from freezing and cracking the traps.

How to Prevent Freezing Pipes

If you have enough time to check the plumbing conditions in the building, determine the pipes most vulnerable to freezing. Look for pipes located outside walls and windows, un-insulated pipes, and pipes installed near unheated spaces. It is also important to verify all walls, floors and ceilings for cracks and/or openings. If you find holes during your inspection, caulked them to keep cold air from entering those gaps.

Be sure to follow these tips:

  • Un-insulated pipes shall be protected with insulation sleeves or wrapping. Do not leave any gaps without insulation as cold air might affect the pipe.
  • Add slip-on foam pipe insulation if possible. Plastic piping is more tolerant of freezing than old copper or steel water pipes.
  • Maintain a heating source inside the building on, so it might release hot air to counterbalance cold air entering the building.
  • Use heat tapes to protect pipes from freezing. Heat tapes are one of the preferred methods used to protect pipes from freezing, but be aware that these might bring additional hazards. The U.S. CPSC has provided safety recommendations for homeowners using heat tapes to help prevent fires.
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