Ten ways to get pipes ready for winter
That first freeze of winter sometimes
takes people by surprise. Here are 10 ways to protect your home's
pipes before and after that first cold snap.
Find the main water shut-off valve and mark
it with a tag or paint it red. The valve will be located where the
water supply pipe enters the house. Look in the basement, garage
or outside near one of the faucets.
Test the valve by shutting it off. Water
should not continue flowing through the faucets.
If the valve doesn't work or your house doesn't
have one, have a plumber repair or install one.
Before the cold weather hits, disconnect garden
hoses and wrap outdoor pipes and faucets with rags, newspapers or other
insulation. Then cover them with plastic and tie-off with string
If possible, turn off valves inside the house
that control exterior faucets. Then open the faucets and leave them open
through the cold months.
In severe cold, drip warm water from the indoor
faucet furthest from where the water enters the house.
If a house is to be unheated for an extended
period, turn off the main valve and water heater, then open all the indoor
and outdoor faucets to drain the pipes.
If a pipe does freeze, your best choice is
to call a plumber.
One do-it-yourself option that works in some
circumstances is to wrap the frozen pipe or faucet with rags and pour hot
water over the rags until water is flowing again. Then remove the wet rags
and re-wrap the pipes with dry insulation.
If a pipe breaks, immediately shut off the
main valve and call a plumber. If you can't get the water to shut off,
call the water company. Ask them to send someone out to turn off the water
at the meter. Warning: This will probably cost you a service charge and
may take awhile for workers to arrive.