It’s human nature to wait until the last minute before we fix something. How does the saying go? Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke? However, this saying isn’t applicable for piping systems in the winter. If you want to avoid headaches and unforeseen plumbing costs, prepare your pipes for the harsh Pittsburgh winter NOW. Winter is almost in full swing, which means dropping temperatures and freezing pipes. Preparing plumbing systems for winter will limit frozen pipes and save you an exceptional amount of money once the winter kicks into full gear.
Frozen pipes aren’t an ideal situation. They can result in expensive plumbing repairs and your water supply to be shut off for days on end. However, frozen pipes really aren’t difficult to prevent. For starters, the easiest way to prevent frozen/broken pipes in the winter is to know where your main water valve shutoff is located. If a plumbing catastrophe does arise and you are able to turn off the main water valve before the water damages your whole plumbing system, you can save hundreds of dollars in repair costs.
A crucial step in assuring your pipes are properly prepared for winter is to see if they are insulated. By having insulated pipes, the core temperature of the pipe doesn’t decrease as quickly, thus reducing the chance of a frozen pipe. It’s crucial to check everywhere, from crawl spaces to attics, to ensure that ALL pipes are properly insulated. All it takes is one exposed pipe and you run the risk of frozen pipe. Insulating your pipes is the easiest DIY method of preventing frozen/cracked pipes (other than turning off the water, as discussed above). For example, a 39 foot roll of insulation can be picked up at you local home improvement store for a little over $25.
Another obvious and easy way of preparing your pipes for winter is to check for openings in the pipes that air could travel through. It goes without saying that if there is a substantial crack in your pipe, it runs a major risk of freezing and cracking more. Not to mention, preparing a cracked pipe reduces your energy bill significantly. Since heat travels out of cracks in the pipe, it requires your heaters to work harder to produce heat.
Fixing a cracked pipe can be done in several ways. The easy and cheap methods are as follows:
Personally, I’d recommend using the pipe repair kit to fixing cracked pipes. However, this method also requires the most time. So, if you’re in a serious time crunch, the plumbing tape or epoxy would work fine.
Another area that requires your attention when preparing your pipes for winter is your sprinkler system. If a pipe bursts in your sprinkler system, it’ll cost more money and require more attention than a normal pipe. This is simply because the pipe is underground. By being underground, more time and money will be spent digging up your lawn looking for the cracked pipe, and eventually repairing it. Not to mention, it’s a very big eye sore to have a huge hole on your front lawn….
To prepare your sprinkler system for winter, simply extract any water that has accumulated in the system. This can be done by turning on the water valve and draining any excess water. Here’s a video that clearly highlights this procedure.
Overall, preparing your pipes for winter is very cheap and doesn’t require much time to be accomplished. Realistically, preparing your pipes should take no more than a few hours, depending on how much insulation and/or pipe repair kits are purchased. By ensuring that your pipes are ready for winter, you are eliminating the risk of paying unnecessary plumbing repair costs. Not to mention, you’ll eliminate all the headaches related to a broken piping system.