How to Winterize Your Plumbing and Prevent Freezing Pipes

We are about to get a cold spell here in the Lowcountry that we haven’t seen the likes of in years. With temperatures expected to reach the low 20s and even teens overnight this holiday weekend, we wanted to arm our customers with tips to prepare their homes now to prevent any problems, especially with guests potentially around as well. 

When temperatures go below freezing, it can cause your pipes to leak and break, potentially creating huge problems. When water freezes, it becomes ice; as we all know, ice is much bigger than water. This expansion, as water becomes ice, puts pressure on your pipes, which can lead to damage.

How to Prevent Freezing Pipes

You’ll want to take the time to identify the pipes most vulnerable to freezing. Look for pipes located outside walls and windows, uninsulated pipes, and pipes installed near unheated spaces like a garage or shed. 

You’ll also want to check for any openings in walls, floors and ceilings and for cracks, especially in hardwood floors and in your molding. After your inspection, fill these holes and caulk them to keep the cold air from entering into those gaps. Make sure to take a walk around the exterior of your home, as well, and fill any visible cracks. Use caulking or spray foam to fill the voids. Check that your crawl space is properly ventilated.

Plastic piping can tolerate a bit colder than copper or steel piping. You may want to look into insulation sleeves that insulate pipes with wrapping or slip-on foam casing. While it may look silly, these can go a long way, especially in vulnerable or exposed areas. Another option is to use heat tape, but beware that this brings additional hazards. Make sure not to leave any gaps, as cold air can impact the pipes. Another area to check is your hoses. Be sure to drain them and insulate them if you can. You may also want to connect an emergency pressure release valve which protects against excess pressure caused by freezing. This will stop your pipes from bursting, but it’s always a good idea to know where the shutoff valves are for your plumbing system.

Inside your home, maintain a warm temperature to protect your pipes against the cold. Try to keep your home at least 65 degrees to ensure that it is warm enough. We also recommend allowing your faucet to drip. This continuous dripping of water allows it to move freely and prevents it from freezing. Another trick is to open cabinet drawers and doors with pipes, so they get additional exposure to the warm air. We also recommend keeping internal doors open to help with airflow and heat circulation. It may go without saying but keeping your garage door closed will help prevent cold air from coming inside. 

If you notice a funny smell, have little or no water, or even a bulging pipe, it’s best to call a professional. It’s likely you have a frozen pipe. If you hear strange noises or see a frosted pipe, it’s best to bring in some help to ensure that the problem doesn’t get worse.

While we don’t expect the weather to be that bad, we hope our tips will help you prepare for the worst. And in case of emergency, we are available to help service your plumbing to ensure that you have a safe and fun holiday season. Give Blanton and Sons a call today for all of your plumbing and heating needs.