The Importance of Winterizing Your Pipes for Winter

Many consider winter to be the ultimate endurance test for the home. The coldest months of the year will cause a lot of wear and tear in your home, ranging from ice dams and leaks to drafts, warping, and even poor energy efficiency. Make no mistake: Winter will attack your home from all fronts, even your plumbing.

Especially your plumbing.

As the water flowing in your pipes get colder, ice starts to form inside them. Experts recommend winterizing your pipes before the cold season hits, but is it really necessary? What’s so important about having some ice in your pipes?
Let’s start with the most obvious one: lack of good water flow. As the ice builds up inside the pipes, it makes it more difficult for the remaining water to flow freely from your pipes. Appliances that get water from your pipes such as the heater and washing machine takes longer to get enough water, which means it puts more strain on the appliances AND increases your energy usage. Lack of good water flow can also cause a lot of inconveniences, especially when showering or waiting for the toilet tank to fill up for flushing.

Ice buildup can also cause problems outside the pipes. Because the ice makes the inside of your pipes cold, the outside surface of the pipes can cause water vapor to condense. Once enough water has condensed, it can cause the same set of problems that any roof leak can cause. The water can cause mold to accumulate, and leaks create damp, narrow spaces which common pests tend to thrive in. The condensed moisture can also drip and cause unsightly water rings on the walls and ceiling.
Perhaps the most dangerous part of having freezing pipes is long-term damage to your plumbing system. Unlike other substances that shrink when they become colder, water expands when they turn to ice. The ice puts a lot of pressure on the pipes, literally causing them to burst at the seams. While the damage may not seem that bad at first, things usually take a turn for the worse when spring comes and the free-flowing water is leaking through multiple points in your plumbing system. If the damage is bad enough, you can expect serious problems such as short-circuiting in your home’s wiring and severe water damage to your walls and furniture.

So as it turns out, winterizing pipes really is necessary. But how does winterizing your pipes work?
Winterizing your pipes is a multi-step process that has two major purposes: reducing the pressure in the pipes and limiting the amount of ice forming inside them. Winterizing requires getting rid of all the water in your pipes and fixtures and filling your plumbing system with special antifreeze solution. Filling the sink and drains with antifreeze is also recommended to keep the sewage system from getting clogged.

Winterizing may take special equipment to completely get rid of the water left in your pipes – you can’t just shut off the main water valve then try to drain everything by leaving the faucets open. If some water is left in your pipes, the antifreeze solution might not work as well as intended. You won’t be able to use your plumbing system until the pipes are properly winterized so storing enough water beforehand is also recommended.

If you want to make sure your pipes are properly winterized, get help from the pros. Handy Crew is the leading provider of plumbing services in Orange County, California. Our team of highly experienced plumbing services staff has the skills and equipment to deal with your plumbing needs. Contact us for more information about the services we offer.

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