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The Texas Homeowner's Guide To Winterizing Your Pipes

Winter can bring its fair share of below-freezing weather, which can come unexpectedly for those living in warmer states. It’s crucial for homeowners to know what to do to protect their homes before an oncoming freeze. Protecting your pipes to prepare for a hard freeze can help homeowners avoid expensive plumbing and home repairs following treacherous weather.

If your area is predicting a freeze, be sure to take all necessary precautions, especially if you are going out of town and will be leaving your home vacant during the freezing temperatures. See below for the advice we received on this subject from one of our preferred, licensed plumbers here in the Houston area.

 

Prepare Your Pipes For A Hard Freeze

 

First, check the weather to see when we’re going to be seeing sustaining freezing temperatures. You’ll want to make sure your pipes are protected during this time. Here in the Greater Houston area, we generally see these possibly damaging temps overnight.

Also think about where pipes are located in your home. Pipes in the attic and on exterior walls will get colder and could need special attention.

Keep reading for some steps to consider taking to protect your home during a freeze.

 

Icicles Hanging off Roof

 

Let cold water drip from faucets. Keeping the water in your pipes moving will help it keep from freezing, so run a small, steady stream of water from your faucets when freezing temperatures hit.

 

Open cabinet doors that plumbing lives behind, including kitchen and bathroom sinks. This allows more circulation of heat from the home to access the pipes and keep them from bursting.

 

Home Faucet Dripping

 

Turn on the heater inside your home to keep pipes from getting too cold. Keeping warm air in the home can help stop pipes from getting cold enough to burst.

 

Insulate pipes with insulation sleeves, wrap with heat tape, or use slip-on foam pipe insulation. Do not leave any gaps between the method of insulation! Cold air could still penetrate the pipes through any spots left uncovered.

 

 

Winterize your sprinkler system. You can find a video demoing how to do this here. It’s not just the pipes inside your home that are at risk during a freeze! Make sure your sprinkler system is winterized and consider adding an extra layer of protection for your backflow preventer.

Our plumber recommends wrapping the backflow preventer with towels, securing it with duct tape, then covering it with a layer of plastic secured with duct tape (a plastic garbage bag is great for this use). This last step is crucial because you want to protect the towel from getting wet. They caution homeowners to be gentle while wrapping – they’ve had clients who have snapped their irrigation equipment when not wrapping gently.

 

Inspect the exterior of your home for any cracks and seal any leaks. Prevent the cold outdoors from penetrating your home by sealing any leaks in windows, chimneys, and door frames. Keep your garage closed to preserve more heat. Clear gutters of debris to prevent a build up of damaging ice. Make sure to also disconnect and drain outdoor hoses before the temperature drops.

 

Winterizing Pipes For Cold

 

Shut off the main water valve and drain water lines. This may seem extreme, but this is another step our plumber tells us homeowners can take to keep pipes safe during periods of prolonged freezing temperatures.

Before shutting off the main water valve, fill your bathtub so you have water available to flush toilets. The incoming water line can typically be found in the foundation near the front side of your house. Once shut off, open all your taps to drain water lines. Closed taps can hold water inside of pipes, which need to be cleared in freezing temperatures. Try to keep all valves and taps open throughout the entirety of the freezing weather. Don’t forget to flush toilets and drain faucets until they’re empty.

 

Consider your hot water heater. If you’re concerned about your hot water heater, our plumber recommends a hot water heater blanket or insulation, which you can buy at your local hardware store.

 

Keep an eye on upcoming weather and make precautions when needed. We urge you to stay safe and warm this winter!

In the event that your home does sustain damage during a freeze, visit our Inclement Weather Resource for Homeowners page for recommended next steps from licensed insurance agents.

 

This checklist contains recommendations based on our research and recommendations from a licensed plumber, and may not be comprehensive.