Leaving for the Winter? 6 Steps to Winterize Your Plumbing
If you’re a snowbird, you need to take special care of your home before you leave for the winter. This is particularly important where your plumbing is concerned. Overnight temperatures can dip into the freezing range in the Pittsburgh area. Once your Pittsburgh plumbing is exposed to that type of cold during the winter, you can expect serious problems, including ruptured water pipes.
Here are five steps you need to take to keep your plumbing safe while you’re away from home this winter.
1. Turn Off the Main Water Valve
If you won’t be home for the winter, turn off the water to your home. This is a three-step process.
First, turn the main water valve off at the street. This will shut off all the water to your home. Second, turn off the water valves to each sink and toilet in your home. You want to do this to ensure that the water stays off — even if someone happens to turn the main valve back on while you’re away. Third, turn on the faucets in your home to allow all the water to escape from your water lines.
2. Don’t Forget About Your Toilets
If your toilets will be left unattended during the winter, be sure they’re empty before you leave. Residual water left in the toilet can freeze, which will increase your risk of a plumbing emergency while you’re gone. To reduce the risk, drain your toilet and winterize the system with antifreeze.
3. Take Care With Your Water Heater
If you’ll be away for the winter, get your water heater ready for your absence. Begin with a service call to ensure that your water heater is free of any defects that could cause issues while you’re away. Part of the service call should include a thorough flush of the tank. You don’t want sediment buildup to lead to a rupture while you’re gone.
Finally, turn your water heater off before you leave. A break for the winter will reduce your energy bill while you’re away from home and will help prevent malfunctions.
4. Protect Your Sprinkler System
If you have automatic sprinklers, purge the lines of air and water before you shut the system down for the winter. If you leave water in the lines, they could rupture while you’re away. Your plumber can come out and purge the lines for you. You also need to cover the main sprinkler valves with an insulated cover to avoid damage caused by freezing temperatures.
5. Shut Down Your Evaporative Cooler
If your home is cooled by an evaporative cooler, you need to follow proper shutdown procedures. If you leave water in the cooler pan, you’ll come home to rust damage. If water is left in the tubes and hoses, they’ll burst once the temperatures hit freezing. Drain all the water from your evaporative cooler, including the pan, tubes, and hoses, and then cover with an insulated tarp.
6. Unplug All Your Electrical Devices
If you will be gone all winter long, unplug your electrical devices before you head out of town. If your home should flood while you’re away, you want to avoid electrical hazards upon your return. If your electrical devices are plugged in and the water rises to outlet level, you risk contact with electrically charged water.
Winter is on the way. If your home will be closed off for the winter, take steps to prevent plumbing emergencies while you are away. The information provided above will help you winterize your plumbing. Contact us at Mitchell Plumbing, Heating & Cooling for more help shutting down your plumbing for the winter.