Every winter thousands of homeowners have the unpleasant experience of ruptured plumbing pipes. In most cases this nightmare is completely avoidable. When the outside temperature drops below 32 degrees Farenheit (0 degrees Celsius), and when plumbing supply lines aren’t properly protected, the water in the pipes freezes and expands bursting the pipe. This can happen to copper, galvanized steel or even plastic piping.
So what can you do to protect you house? The best defense is ensuring that all exposed and visible water supply lines and exterior faucets (hose bibs) are properly insulated. Most houses have either a pier-and-beam or slab foundation. For houses with a pier-and-beam foundation, the supply lines are often underneath the house and not insulated properly.
Tubular pipe insulation works well and is easy to install. There is even a split type with a self-adhesive strip. The tape can be pulled off and the tube closed by simply pressing the adhesive ends together. This material comes in long lengths and can easily be cut to fit. In addition, all exterior faucets should be covered with a foam insulating cover, which can be found at most hardware stores. For houses on a slab foundation, insulating the water supply lines under the house is not possible or necessary. Simply make sure that the exterior faucets are properly insulated. An alternate to insulating lines is to let the lines drip at the faucets just slightly. This relieves pressure off the line but may not help in excessively low temperatures. The other problem with letting the faucets drip is that they're typically forgotten wasting gallons of water.
Frequency: Before a freeze is expected or by October in most areas.
Tools Required: Two hands
Completion Time: 10 minutes or a few hours depending on the type of foundation
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