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Plumbing and Pipes
By Kimberly Duncan
The second step of winterizing your home, after you have checked the roof and gutters and addressed any problems there, is to look at your plumbing and pipes and prepare them for the winter months ahead. Any exposure to temperatures below freezing could cause pipes to freeze and burst, so this is a step that you definitely do not want to skip.
Inside Plumbing Winterization
Insulate you pipes. Wrap your pipes with insulation, particularly in the basement where it is likely to be the coldest during the winter. You should also wrap the pipes above your furnace and water heater because these are usually copper, particularly on older models, and they are more vulnerable to cold temperatures. You can wrap your water heater with a special water heater insulation blanket also if the basement is particularly cold and the equipment is a few years old.
Outside Plumbing Winterization
Inspect all outside areas for any exposed plumbing. If you have an outside spigot hooked up to a hose, remove the hose and store it in your garage or basement. Then drain and open the pipe that goes to the spigot. Make sure that all water and air is out of the line and then seal it up for the winter. Place a cap on the outside opening and make sure that any waterflow into the pipe is eliminated.
Heating and Air Systems
If you have an air conditioning system, drain the pipes and if it has a water shut off valve, turn it off. These pipes can also freeze and cause significant damage to your home. Use common sense when it comes to water pipes. Anything that is not absolutely necessary for the winter months should be drained and any pipes that are exposed should be wrapped.
Another tip to avoid freezing and breakage in the winter is to leave the heat on when you go away, even if for an extended period of time. If the home in question is a vacation home, you can drain the entire water system, but if it's your primary residence you should leave the heat on with a setting of at least 55 degrees Farenheit even when you're not home.
Drains and Septic Systems
Other parts of your plumbing system are drains and septic systems. Drains should be checked for any blockages before winter and septic tanks should be emptied. Flowing water will rarely freeze, but still water that sits in a tank can be a hazard. Keeping the tank level low will leave room for liquid to expand as it freezes and turns solid.
Winter can be difficult or it can be a relaxing season of holidays and goodwill. Taking steps before winter to protect your home from accidental and elemental damage can help you enjoy the season and relax in the winter. Protecting your plumbing and water pipes will not only keep your home dry, it will also keep it warm. Your heating system relies on the integrity of your plumbing system, so it's well worth a little effort to address these issues before winter begins. The next step is to look at your basement and check out some other areas you can prepare for winter.
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