Protect your pipes- 4 home winterization tips

Home Improvement

Fall is settling into the Ozarks and it's bringing with it much cooler temperatures. These temperature changes cause the foliage to change to their breathtakingly beautiful colors- but did you know they could also wreck havoc on your home if you haven't taken steps to properly winterize?

We all know that when frozen, water expands. If  a pipe is full of water, and that water freezes and expands- the pipe could burst leading to extensive damages and costly repairs. However there are 4 easy steps winterize your home and prepare for colder weather:

1- Remove and store garden hoses
Your first step towards winterizing your exterior faucets is to remove all attached hoses, drain them and store them away. If you have a sloped yard or driveway simply lay the hose out straight and let the water drain out. Any water sitting inside the garden hoses could freeze and damage the material. Leaving the host attached to the exterior faucet is a hazard to the faucet. 

2- Protect your outside faucets and RPZ valve 
Freezing temperatures can cause cracks to outdoor faucets, pipe bursts, and irreparable cracks on Reduced Pressure Zone Assembly (RPZ) back flow devices. Disconnect and store outdoor hoses, and cover outside faucets for the winter with an insulated enclosure that can be found at a hardware store.

3- Locate your shutoff valve for emergencies 
The valve stops the flow of water and is usually located outside near the water line entering your home within a few feet of the water meter. If you are unable to locate the valve, contact the builder or a plumber for assistance. Knowing the location of this valve can save valuable time in the event of a pipe bursting or other emergencies. 

4- Let your faucets drip and open cabinet doors 
When temperatures drop below freezing, let your faucet drip when you're asleep or not home to prevent a pipe from bursting. Faucets near outside walls are especially vulnerable to freezing as well as all indoor faucets. Opening cabinet doors will allow the warm indoor air to better reach the pipes and prevent them from bursting. 

Taking the time to address these 4 home winterization steps can help prevent costly damage but they cannot guarantee that you will not encounter a frozen pipe. If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes
- Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
- Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
- Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
- Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.