Winter in Colorado can be a tricky thing. It’s also one of the busiest seasons for us here at Solid Plumbing and Heating LLC. But, as much as we love to see you, for your sake, it’s best when it’s not for a plumbing disaster. In our region, cold snaps come in suddenly and can leave your pipes vulnerable to freezing. We all know that water expands when it freezes. That’s not a problem for the cubes in your freezer, but when it happens in your plumbing, it’s a potential disaster. A frozen pipe can crack, spewing hundreds of gallons of water into your home. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to help prevent a catastrophe.
Shut Off Outdoor Faucets
As temperatures drop, turn off any outdoor faucets at their shutoff valves. To do that, open the faucet, and then the bleeder cap on the shutoff valve. Be sure to drain any water out of the pipe. Leave the bleeder cap open with a bucket underneath to catch any drips. Note that if the dripping doesn’t stop, your shutoff valve will need to be replaced. If you don’t properly drain the pipe, any standing water can freeze and crack.
Disconnect Garden Hoses
A garden hose filled with water left out in the cold is going to freeze. If that frozen hose is still connected to the faucet, it can cause ice to back up the pipes and into your house. Disconnect all hoses from their faucets, drain them and store them properly for the winter.
Heating and Insulation
If you have pipes in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces, the attic or garage they are vulnerable to the cold. Consider installing heat cable and covering it with insulation. Pipe insulation alone does little to protect pipes, and may, in fact, prevent warm air from reaching them. Heat cables have an integral thermostat that senses pipe temperature, turning the heat on and off as needed to keep the pipe from freezing.
Keep Kitchen Cabinet Doors Open
Kitchen plumbing is vulnerable during cold snaps. Because the pipes tend to be behind closed cabinet doors, heat from the rest of the house can’t reach them. Open the cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate into the cabinets. A fan or portable heater pointed inside the cabinet also helps circulate warm air.
Leave Faucets Running
A trickling faucet acts as a relief valve for the pressure that builds up if frozen pipes do occur. That pressure relief can prevent frozen pipes from cracking. A slow trickle is all you need. It’ll bump up your next water bill a bit, but compared with major home repairs, that’s an easy price to pay. Don’t leave a faucet running if the drain is on an exterior wall, though; the drain can freeze, causing the sink to overflow.
Keep Temperatures Steady During Cold Snaps
During extreme cold, bypass your thermostat’s programming and leave the temperature steady. You may even want to turn it up a couple of degrees to help combat the cold.
Turn The Water Off And The Heat On
If at any time during the winter you’ll be away from your home, set your thermostat no lower than 45F and turn the water off at the main shutoff. The temperature will help reduce the risk of freezing while still being energy conscious, and shutting the water off will ensure minimal damage if your pipes do freeze while you’re away.
What If It’s Too Late?
Even with the best preparation pipes can still freeze. In case of a major incident, make sure that all members of the household know the location of the main water valve. If a pipe bursts, you may need to immediately shut off all the water in the home. We hope you have a frozen pipe free winter, but if you need us, Solid Plumbing and Heating LLC is just a phone call away serving Bayfield, Durango, and the Surrounding areas.