Winter is slowly approaching. Your plumbing system is an integral part of your home. Nobody wants to wake up on a cold winter morning and realize they have no running water. Here are three tips to winterize pipes in your home.

Inside your home

The most important thing is assess the state of your pipes. Turn off the water supply to your house. This is either outside of your home or in the basement. Once the water supply is cut off drain the pipes of water. This means turning on every faucet until there is no water. A popular way to winterize pipes is to use antifreeze. The antifreeze used for plumbing is different from the one used for vehicles. RV antifreeze is typically propylene glycol or ethanol. Both are non toxic and effective defrosting agents.  Pour antifreeze down drains and into toilets to prevent any remaining water from freezing over. Once the antifreeze has been poured. Shut off the water heater and drain the water heater. An alternative method is winterizing plumbing with compressed air. Starting on the top floor use short bursts of air to the main drains for several seconds each. By blowing out water pipes to winterize home you insulate your home against frozen pipes.

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Drain your appliances. Turn on the dishwasher and run it to clear water. Any openings or crawl space has the potential to be frozen. Insulating tubes are made of fiberglass or polyethylene. If you live in the Northeast or Mid-West you may want to add heat tape to ensure maximum insulation. Since empty spaces are conducive to freezing keep pipes running overnight. A little drip not a steady stream will prevent freezing pipes. Also open the cabinets below the sink to allow heat to come in.

Look around for any holes or cracks. If there are any holes insulate the interior of your home.  Also any room or area adjacent to the garage door is susceptible to freezing. If your bathroom is near the garage invest in a small space heater . In deep freezes or  in winter maintain thermostat temperature at 55 Fahrenheit. When you are ready to use water again turn on the water supply valve and let every stream run until the pipes are full.

Outside your home

Disconnect all garden hoses.  Turn off any external faucets.  This includes your sprinkler system.  Blowing out sprinkler pipes may require the help of a licensed professional. Some homes have external water pipes. These are more vulnerable to freezing than internal pipes.  They should be fitted with pipe sleeves or electric heating tape. Winterize outside pipes and irrigation systems by mid-November. Way before the start of winter.Fix any exterior cracks to keep all of the heat inside. Learning how to winterize plumbing in a vacant house is very easy. Maintain a constant level of heating in your house even when no one is home. If your domicile has a pool drain it with the same process for pipes.  A sump pump will be needed depending on the size of the pool.

 What will happen if you don’t winterize pipes

Your pipes will freeze over. It will be near impossible to get running water in your home. Open all the hot and cold faucets in your home to relieve pressure. Some homeowners may find success in thawing pipes using a handheld hair dryer . Never use a blowtorch or open flame in any attempt to thaw pipes. However when in doubt contact a professional plumber. The most effective way to prevent freezing pipes is to hire a contractor to reroute pipes to more protected areas.

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