Cold weather in North Carolina means sweaters, sparkly lights, and of course, college basketball! Unfortunately, low temperatures can wreak havoc on your plumbing if you haven’t prepared your home.
When the temperature drops, water in your plumbing system can freeze, causing pipes to expand and crack. Damage to your plumbing can lead to flooding and expensive repairs. Here are a few simple things that you can do to winterize your home and protect your plumbing during the winter months.
Put the Garden Hose Away
You’ve eaten the last tomato from your garden by now, and you probably won’t need your hose again until the spring. Breaks in water lines are frequently caused by pressure build-up from ice in hoses and outdoor faucets. Avoid this by removing any hoses connected to outdoor faucets. Drain the hoses of remaining water and store them in a safe place. Next, install insulated faucet jackets to all of your outdoor faucets to prevent them from freezing.
Flush Your Sprinkler System and Outdoor Water Features
Underground pipes for sprinkler systems or outdoor water features such as fountains, swimming pools, and hot tubs are also highly susceptible to damage during the winter. It’s important to get all of the water out of the lines to prevent freezing. Turn off the water supply to your home. Open all of the drain valves and flush any collected water that remains. If you’re not sure how to drain your system, consult your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer.
Insulate Exposed Pipes
Pipes that are not hidden behind drywall and insulation are more likely to freeze. Walk through any unfinished areas of your home, including the attic, garage, and crawlspaces, and look for exposed pipes. Wrap the pipes in foam insulation to prevent them from freezing. Foam insulation is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from most home improvement stores.
Keep Your Home Warm
You should always set the thermostat above 55 degrees during the winter. This is a general rule of thumb that should help prevent it from getting cold enough in your home for pipes to freeze. In areas that aren’t well insulated, close or cover all vents. This is particularly important for the space where your water heater is located.
On especially cold days, open cabinet doors along exterior walls or anywhere there is plumbing, such as your kitchen and bathroom sinks. The flow of air will also help keep the pipes from freezing.
If you haven’t already, familiarize yourself with the location of your water main. If your pipes do crack and cause a flood, you don’t want to have to run around your house trying to find out how to cut the water off. Knowing where the water main is ahead of time will help you remain calm in an emergency.
Keep an eye on the weather. If you see that temperatures are going to drop significantly or will be below freezing, consider turning all of your faucets on to a slow, steady drip. It is unlikely to get so cold in North Carolina that moving water freezes.
Inspect your home before the weather gets chilly. Look for any cracks in your plumbing. Small issues can become expensive repairs if you don’t catch the problem early. If you have issues with cracked pipes or an emergency does arise, call a professional plumber. If you’re in Raleigh or Wilmington, NC, schedule a service call with Newcomb & Company.