North Texas transformed into a snowy wonderland this past winter. For many, the frigid weather caused burst pipes and wreaked havoc on homes. This year, residents are encouraged to winterize their homes to prepare for the unlikely event of more extreme weather. As the experts at C&W Plumbing remind us – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Why is it important that residents winterize their homes to prepare for cold weather?
As we learned from what we lovingly called Snow-geddon last year, winterizing well and having a backup plan to keep your pipes warm could mean the difference between a home that survives a storm unscathed vs. one that is destroyed with catastrophic damages.
Last year's winter storm resulted in massive plumbing issues across our area. What were some preventable issues that you observed?
Early preparation is the most important factor to weathering the storm effectively. Too many people wait until the last minute to prepare, when items such as propane bottles, space heaters and outside faucet covers have been bought up and are no longer available. Having extra items like these, as well as knowing what areas of your home may be affected the most, can help people avoid unnecessary damage. Also, being prepared with supplies such as blankets, matches, firewood, food, medical supplies and clean water is essential.
When should residents take extra steps to protect their pipes?
When temperatures start hovering around 40 degrees, it is time to start winterizing. Here in Texas, temperatures can drop suddenly and without much warning so removing hoses from outside faucets, opening cabinet doors at night and letting water drip from faucets that are on an outside wall can help prevent pipes from bursting.
If water stops flowing from a fixture in the home, make sure to keep the faucet open to allow as much warmer air into the pipe as possible, and open any cabinet doors that surround the pipes. A hairdryer or space heater (if it can be used safely) can be used to get the water flowing again. Be mindful that a potential leak will show up when the pipe thaws, so be prepared to turn the water off to your home should that be the case.
Which pipes are more prone to freezing?
Pipes on outside walls are prone to freezing, particularly on parts of the home in shady areas or where it is very windy. Also keep an eye on outside faucets that are either dripping or have a hose attached and water lines running through attics.
What steps can residents take to protect their plumbing?
Remove hoses from outside faucets, and cover outside faucets. Covers can be purchased or towels can be wrapped around the faucets and duct taped over them. Keep areas like attics, crawl spaces and garages where plumbing is running through warm. In extremely low temperatures, opening the door from the attic or garage to the rest of the house may be enough to raise the temperature those few critical degrees.
When setting pipes to drip, should residents drip both hot and cold water? If so, why?
If possible, dripping both hot and cold water is helpful because the hot and cold essentially are two loops in the system, so keeping water moving through both is best.
How can residents protect outdoor pipes?
Turn off and drain all outside water lines, such as sprinklers and pool equipment. Remove hoses, and cover outside faucets.
How do you know if a pipe has frozen?
When water stops flowing to a fixture or area of the home, it may indicate that it is frozen.
What can happen when a frozen pipe bursts?
If a frozen pipe starts to thaw and it bursts, don’t panic, but be ready to turn off the water to the area. This may mean turning off the water to the home from the outside or turning off the hot water from the valve on top of the water heater (if a tanked unit). If you have a tankless unit, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and, if applicable, shut down water recirculation devices properly in order to not damage the unit.
Is it possible to thaw a frozen pipe? If so, how?
The best way to thaw a frozen pipe in a wall or under a cabinet is to get as much heat to the area as possible. If a space heater can be safely used in the area to heat it, then do so. Read all dangers of the use of this type of heater before using it, and never leave one unattended. Hair dryers can also effectively be used to heat up pipes. In areas that you have repeat issues, consider installing more insulation and potentially heat tape.
Tell me about C&W's check-up appointments and why should residents consider scheduling a check-up before winter?
Schedule a check-up with C&W Plumbing to meet with a licensed plumber who is well-versed in seeing and repairing properties that did not take proactive measures to prevent issues. Let them help advise you on how to best protect your home.
C&W Plumbing has been serving the North Dallas Metroplex for more than 20 years. The company provides residential plumbing services – from faucet, toilet and garbage-disposal repairs to larger services on tankless water heaters, tanked water heaters, water filtration and slab repairs. For more information, visit CandWPlumbing.com.