During the brutal winter season, many residents of the Virginia area find out the true victims of the sub-zero temperatures are the interior pipes in their homes. Winter can come down hard on them and render them useless or ineffectual. So it’s important to prepare the piping in your home for the intense weather. Wondering how to do this?
Let’s look at simple but practical ways to beat the freeze and keep your taps flowing.
1. Insulate water pipes in exposed areas
Start by insulating the pipes in the unconditioned crawl space that is the area under your home, then the ones in the exterior walls and unheated attic. These pipes are prone to freezing because they come into contact with outdoor air. Insulating pipes using pipe-wraps lowers the risk of freezing and sudden bursts from excess pressure.
2. Install foam pipe sleeves
If you have longer runs of pipes that need insulation, it’s advisable to cover them using foam pipe sleeves. Typical sleeves are made of rubber or foam and can be as long as six feet. That’s more than enough to cover a long pipe. When buying, make sure that your contractor gets the right size for your pipes.
3. Seal crawl space
An unconditioned crawl space is an open invitation for winter air to freeze your pipes. Covering the crawl space can reduce the volume of cold air that surrounds your water pipes. A common method of sealing is using foam pieces that cover both walls and floors then securing them with fasteners and tape. Not sure what steps to take to seal your crawl space? Request a Free Crawl Space Inspection today!
4. Use Heating Tape
If your piping system is within reach, it’s also advisable that you wrap the water pipes with electrical heating tape to maintain the heat. Self-monitoring tapes with a sensor that turns on and off depending on the heating needs of the pipe is a good option. You can also use the manual tape, which will require you to plug and unplug it.
Caution: Never install an electrical heating tap on your own. Let a professional handle it to minimize safety hazards.
5. Insulate Pipe Gaps
As you insulate your water pipes, don’t forget the pipe gaps. It’s important that you seal all air gaps, especially where pipes go through the exterior wall. The reason is that a significant amount of heat is lost in such gaps. Sealing these gaps with foam caulk rope and expanding foam not only waterproofs them but keeps your pipes flowing in winter.
6. Constant Thermostat Settings
One of the simplest ways to stop freezing is to set the thermostat at the same temperature 24/7. Many homeowners in Virginia are fond of lowering the thermostat during evenings to reduce their heating costs. That’s not a good strategy because it can cause their pipes to burst, something that could be ultimately more expensive than the slightly high heating bills. By ensuring steady temperatures during and night, you will prevent ice from forming on your pipes.
7. Seal Cracks and Openings
Covering your crawl space and exposed pipes is a step in the right direction, but not enough. Inspect your Virginia home for openings, cracks or holes that could bring in a draft and freeze your pipes. Pay attention to the area around the windows and door frames. Don’t forget to check cable holes like the ones for internet or television in the walls. If there are openings around sill plates, make sure you seal them. We strongly advise you to apply caulking on cracks around pipes on your walls (interior and exterior). This traps warm air and stops blockage from frozen water.
Always Leave the Heat On
If you’re planning to travel during the winter, ensure your heat is on while you’re out of town. Leaving the heat on in an empty house isn’t a futile thing. It’s going to stop temperatures from dropping and causing your water pipes to freeze and burst. Try to maintain internal temperatures of 55 degrees or more, as this will ensure your pipes keep flowing.
- Disconnect water supply to faucets or plumbing systems on the outside.
- Ensure your residential garage door is closed 24/7 to protect water pipes from cold winter air.
- Make sure your garage doors are closed at all times to protect the pipes located there from the cold.
- Keep bathroom and kitchen cabinets open so warm air can circulate around the home. This will help prevent pipes from freezing because of cold snaps.
- Leave pipes that are prone to freezing drip a bit. Water movement even at the pace of a drip prevents ice from forming in the pipes.
Want to avoid frozen pipe issues during cold winter months in Virginia? Request a free inspection of your home and crawl space today.