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Winter Tips

Snowy winter scene

  • Block off the air vents under your house.
  • Take your hoses off and cover all outside faucets.
  • Drain your sprinkler system.
  • Use insulation to protect outside pipes and water storage tanks from freezing.

Prevent Frozen and Broken Pipes

Well, I’m sure not ready for winter, but then, winter didn’t ask me! My outside thermometer hit 33F a couple nights ago, and that means one thing to a plumber – frozen pipes! Frozen and broken pipes are no fun for anyone, and plumbers don’t like them any more than anyone else does! Thankfully, there are some things you can do NOW that will reduce your chances of frozen or broken pipes this winter!

The Name of the Game in winter is temperature! Keep your pipes – and the liquid inside them – above freezing, and you won’t have any problems. Insulation is your friend! You can use actual foam pipe insulation, sold specifically for this purpose. But you should also make sure you block off any air vents under your house. Prevent the cold air from collecting under the house, don’t let the wind rob the heat that manages to seep downward thru your floors. You can buy squares of foam insulation specifically made to cut to the proper shapes.

In an emergency, though, cardboard can also help. Cut a heavy cardboard box into the proper sizes & shapes and cover all of your vents. You can use large rocks or zipties or even duct tape to help prevent the wind and wild animals from disturbing your shields until it’s time to remove them next spring. You’re trying to create a still, dry area under your house, where the warmer air can escape downward thru your floors and then sit around your pipes. That airgap in itself can provide a bit of insulation.

Don’t forget your outside hoses and faucets! Remove all garden hoses, drain them and store them in a protected area until spring. Drain your sprinkler system and follow any instructions you were given to winterize it.

Wrap all hose bibbs, outside faucets, and spigots. Most garden supply houses have inexpensive foam insulation cups that will fit over most faucets. In an emergency, when the weather caught us by surprise, we’ve even used old towels, wrapped with plastic bags and duct tape, on our own pipes. It wasn’t elegant, but it worked until we could get to the warehouse the next day! The more insulation outside pipes have, the better it is!

And if it gets cold enough, don’t forget the inside pipes in your walls. If you have sinks on your outside walls, it can help to leave the cabinet doors open to the inside room during a severe cold spell.

Please note - we’ve seen people suggest leaving a space heater in your crawl space. We do NOT recommend this. Frozen pipes can be a pain in the neck, but NOTHING is worth burning your house down!

Ultimately, if it gets cold enough, Nature will win the battle. In this area, all bets are off if it goes under 0F, like it did a couple years ago! But you can do a lot to prevent and minimize trouble. And if you need us, just give us a call at 541-343-9339. We’ll be glad to help you out. We’ve got generations of experience, insulating, thawing, and repairing broken pipes!

Good Luck, and enjoy our beautiful Winter Wonderland!

Winter Preparation articles from Petersen Plumbing