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How to Prepare Your Pipes for Winter

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Posted December 2, 2022
preparing pipes for winter

As winters go, Houston is in a sweet spot. Daily highs rarely fall below 48°F, and low temperatures only occasionally hit below freezing. But if you were in the neighborhood a couple of years ago, you undoubtedly remember the historic winter outbreak of February 2021. Houston can get cold, and burst pipes can lead to expensive damage. Don’t take Houston’s warm climate for granted. Air Specialist A/C Heating Plumbing & More of Houston offers the following tips to keep your pipes intact during a cold spell. Have a plan before the frigid forecast, and you’ll emerge unscathed when the warm temperatures return.

What to do when a freeze is forecasted?

When the meteorologist starts to talk about record-cold temperatures, it’s time to prepare for the worst. Many flood insurance policies don’t cover damage caused by burst pipes, so having a plan in place now can save you thousands of dollars. If freezing temperatures are predicted, take advantage of the calm before the storm to complete the following tasks:

Locate the main water shutoff valve in your home. You’ll want to shut off the outside water supply before the storm hits.

Drain the external water supply. Water expands when it freezes. If there’s water inside your pipes when the temperatures reach 20°F or below, that water can cause pipes to burst. Take inventory of vulnerable pipes, like your sprinkler lines, swimming pool and outdoor hoses, and make sure they’re drained of any residual water.

Bring in insulation. Houston homes don’t necessarily include insulated pipes. If the forecast calls for freezing temperatures, prepare your pipes for the cold. Your local hardware stores sell products designed to insulate water pipes. Invest in these materials to give your pipes an extra layer of protection when the cold hits.

Prepare to keep the cold air out. You don’t want to discover a drafty window during the coldest night of the winter. Repair any broken doors and windows now and seal any leaks in your attic or crawl space.

 Taking care of your pipes during a freeze

When winter weather arrives, be ready to protect your pipes.

Keep the warmer air circulating. Open cabinetry beneath the sinks to ensure warm air continues reaching your pipes. Make sure all doors and windows remain tightly closed. Use towels or blankets to block the cold air that wants to seep under the door or through the smallest crack in your window frames.

Turn on the heat. Your home’s interior should stay at a constant temperature day and night. Even when you feel warm, the air inside your walls – which can house your pipes – may be colder. Don’t skimp on the heat setting.

Do the drip. Keeping a faucet dripping during a storm can relieve the pressure building up as ice freezes outside. There’s no need to keep every faucet running, though. Choose the faucet that is furthest away from your water supply. Are you reluctant to wastewater? Set a bucket underneath so you can use the water later.

After the storm

If your pipes still freeze despite all your precautions, be patient. Turn on all your faucets to let the water trickle out and begin the thawing process. Resist the desire to heat things with a blow torch – that can cause the pipes to crack.

Call your plumber. Conducting a thorough inspection afterward to identify any residual damage from the freezing weather is important. Air Specialist of Houston now offers plumbing services and can repair, install and maintain your home’s plumbing system. Call us or contact us online to schedule an appointment. Protect your pipes with Air Specialist A/C Heating Plumbing & More!


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