With colder weather well on its way, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll prepare your plumbing for winter. Here in Tucson, the greatest risk comes at night when temperatures can dip below freezing. Preparing your pipes for winter means ensuring they can handle these colder temperatures, even when their onset is sudden. Here are our Ram Plumbing tips for winter plumbing preparation:
Prevent Frozen Pipes
In general, the biggest risk with winter pipes is that they might burst when the water inside them freezes. Because water expands when it freezes, it can place extreme pressure on the pipe from the inside, producing small cracks that grow until the pipe bursts. Once the pipe bursts, water will flood your home or yard until the main line is shut off.
Avoiding this problem with your plumbing in winter is pretty simple. All you need to do is locate your pipes that aren’t well insulated—anywhere the pipes are exposed—and wrap them with foam tubes that are specifically designed for pipe insulation. Use duct tape to secure the foam and you’re good to go. Prevention is key!
Address All Existing Leaks Now
If there are any existing leaks in your home, part of preparing your plumbing for winter should be addressing them now. Fluctuations in temperature will only make any existing leaks worse and put you at risk of flooding. Even if the leaks are in faucets or cabinets, waiting only allows the problem to get worse.
Keep in mind that hidden leaks are also steadily damaging your home, and that damage can quickly become very expensive—especially when they’re hidden. While you may be hesitant to pay for plumbing help now, doing so will save you money in the long run.
Disconnect Your Hoses When Not in Use
In colder parts of the country, preparing your pipes for winter means disconnecting and storing hoses away until warmer weather returns. Here in Tucson, however, we tend to use our hoses year-round. A good Arizona plumbing solution is to disconnect hoses when not in use. Like pipes, hoses that have water inside them will expand as water freezes, causing them to crack and leak. The faucets and pipes leading to the hose can freeze and crack, as well. Instead, disconnect your hose after each use or around sunset each day so the colder nighttime temperatures don’t cause damage.
Shut Off Your Water When Away
While this isn’t necessary for a trip to the store, if you’re leaving home for a trip or weekend getaway, it’s best to turn off the water to your home. Even with excellent winter plumbing prep, there’s the chance that something might go wrong. By shutting off water to the house, you’ll ensure that no water damage will be done to your home. Be sure to turn off your ice maker as well so it doesn’t burn out when the water is off. Vacations are always better when you don’t return some to something both expensive and unexpected.
Insulate the Colder Areas of Your Home
Even if you insulate your pipes, your efforts to prevent frozen pipes may be useless if your home is very cold. If there are unheated areas of your home, it’s important to add heating and insulate them so the pipes within those spaces don’t freeze and burst. In most homes, the high-risk areas are the garage and the basement. Consider finishing the walls of your basement if it’s unfinished and insulating the garage if plumbing runs through the walls. Your winter pipes will thank you—and so will your wallet.
Know What to Do in a Cold Snap
A cold snap is when the temperature drops suddenly. This sudden fluctuation can be very hard on your pipes and plumbing in the winter, putting your pipes at risk. While all of the above preparations are important, there are a few things that should be done when that sudden chill hits. These include:
- Keep the temperature in your home steady—the less temperature fluctuation your pipes experience, the better.
- Open your cabinet doors—pipes hidden inside cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom get little circulation, making it difficult for the warmer air in your home to reach them.
- Let your faucets trickle—doing so relieves pressure in the pipes if the water inside does start to freeze. While water costs money, it costs far less than fixing broken plumbing or repairing flood damage.
Turn Off Water to the Exterior of the Home
While you may still need to use your outdoor faucets throughout the winter, turn off the water supply to them when they aren’t in use. Since they’re outside, they’re more prone to freezing than your indoor faucets. Keep in mind that just because they’re outside doesn’t mean there’s no risk of damage to your home—if the flood water ends up near your house, it can cause major issues.
Get a Professional Inspection
While there’s plenty you can do as a homeowner to protect your Arizona plumbing, nothing is a substitute for professional assistance. Your Tucson home plumbing should be inspected at least once a year—and winter is the ideal time to have an inspection. The technicians at Ram Plumbing can spot any potential issues with your system, insulate your pipes, and ensure that you get through the winter without any incidents. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as Benjamin Franklin once said.
If you’re located in Tucson, Ram Plumbing is here to help you get your plumbing system ready for those freezing nighttime temps. We’ve been in the Tucson area since 1983 and deliver the best solutions for your home.