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How to Get Your Home’s Plumbing Through a Washington Winter
December 15, 2021
If there’s one plumbing fiasco you don’t want to have, it’s frozen pipes. Once water starts to freeze inside your plumbing system, it starts a pressure buildup that can lead to your pipes bursting and leaking. Those leaks inevitably result in mold growth and water damage—and fixing these issues is never cheap.
At The Plumbing Joint Inc., we often get customers calling around this time of year with questions about winterizing their plumbing and what they can do to avoid burst pipes in their Washington homes. For this reason, we’ve decided to provide this handy guide for anyone who needs help with preparing their home’s plumbing for a Washington winter.
DO I NEED TO WINTERIZE MY PLUMBING IN WASHINGTON STATE?
While our weather around Downtown Seattle, Renton, and Bellevue may not get as extreme as in the mountains or other U.S. regions, cold snaps can catch homeowners unaware and result in plumbing damage. Generally, weather experts start warning about frozen pipes when outdoor temperatures are predicted to reach 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
However, there is no “magic temperature” at which pipes start freezing. Depending on how well your home’s plumbing is protected and winterized, freezing could start above or well below 20 degrees.
If you live in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, we advise you to keep an eye on the forecast and to take precautions to make sure your home is equipped to deal with freezing conditions. It’s better to be safe than sorry especially when “sorry” can mean dealing with thousands of dollars in damage and homeowners insurance companies.
HOW DO I WINTERIZE MY PLUMBING?
You can protect your home against frozen pipes by taking precautions well in advance and by using a few tried and tested tricks during extremely cold weather.
1. Insulate pipes in unprotected areas.
Pipes in areas like your home’s garage, attic, and crawl space typically have the least protection from temperature changes. This makes them susceptible to freezing. You can provide them with a “buffer” against the cold by wrapping them in tubular foam insulation or fiberglass pipe wrap. Not only will your pipes be better protected, but you’ll also reduce the amount of heat your hot water loses as it travels from your water heater to your faucets.
2. Drain your sprinklers.
If extremely cold temperatures are coming, it’s a good idea to get rid of any standing water in your sprinkler system that might cause its pipes to rupture. Your system may come with an automatic way to drain it, but if not, you can also drain it manually or hire someone to perform a blow-out draining method.
3. Turn off the outdoor water supply.
If your outdoor faucets are still getting water during a deep freeze, this could lead to a big problem. Look around your home’s exterior or in your garage for the valve (or valves) that stop the water flow to your outdoor taps, and make sure it’s closed. Drain the remaining water from the pipes by turning on the outdoor faucets until no more water comes out. Make sure to disconnect any hoses first.
4. Cover outdoor taps with faucet socks.
Your outdoor faucets need to be insulated with waterproof material to prevent freezing. The best way to do this is by covering them with properly-sized, waterproof faucet socks. You can find these covers in most home improvement stores.
5. Keep your pipes warm on freezing days and nights.
Now that you’ve prepared for freezing weather, you must know how to keep your pipes warm during periods of extreme cold:
- Allow your heater to run at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
- Open your kitchen and bathroom cupboards to let the warmth from your home transfer to your pipes.
- Check all your doors and windows (including the garage door) to make sure they’re shut tightly.
- Allow your faucets to run at a light trickle. This does not keep the pipes warm, but it prevents the pressure buildup that allows frozen pipes to burst.
DO PLUMBERS OFFER WINTERIZATION SERVICES?
Not all plumbing companies offer winterization services, so you will need to check with your trusted plumber to see if that’s something with which they can assist you. At The Plumbing Joint Inc., we are proud to help customers with winterizing their plumbing, and we’re always happy to answer any questions.
Do you need help winterizing your home’s plumbing? Our plumbers provide reliable service in Renton, Bellevue, and throughout King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties. Contact The Plumbing Joint Inc. at (425) 228-3204 today!