Friday, November 16, 2007

Winterizing A Home And Preventing Freezing Pipes


The only 100% way to keep pipes from freezing is to drain the entire plumbing system.

The procedure to do this is as follows:

1. Turn off the main water supply at the main shutoff valve,

2. Turn off the gas or electric that supplies the hot water heater.

3. Siphon out the water from the washing machine. You can buy a siphon hose with a squeeze bulb from stores like Harbor Freight.

At this point, if you have an air compressor, Screw a Recreational Vehicle air purging valve onto a faucet that you have opened and drained. This small valve is use to drain R.V. water systems for winterization. Apply no more than 40 pounds of air pressure to the valve. This will pressurize the system, and speed up the drain out. If you do not have an air compressor, the drain can still be done without one. If you have a well pump, drain the system at the well pump and attach this valve to a faucet at the well pump and apply pressure there.

4. For a home heated with hot water heat, open the drain and let the water flow out into a bucket or a floor drain. All of the radiator valves must be opened. Take the air vent off of a radiator on a top floor to allow the water will be displaced by air as it drains.

5. Start at the top floor and work your way down. Open all cold and hot water faucets. Do this to the outside faucets too.

6. Drain the hot water heater. Make sure that the power remains off during the period of non-use. Do the same for water softeners or other water treatment devices.

7. Open the faucet on the main supply line to get rid of any remaining water.

8. Pour about one gallon of R.V. antifreeze into the toilet bowl and a half gallon into the empty holding tank. Pour enough R.V. antifreeze into the p-traps of all sinks if it is impractical to remove and drain them. Put about a quart into the drains of every bathroom tub, sinks, and shower stall to displace remaining fresh water in the p-traps.

If you can't do the above, then take at least these steps:

A. Plug in a heat lamp or hang a 100 watt bulb in areas that might be prone to freezing. Keep all heat sources such as the light bulb away from all wood and other flammable surfaces.

B. A well pump house can be warmed by a 400 to 500 watt heating element. This can be purchased at farm supply stores. It has a short electrical cord. So, you need to use a good 12 gauge appliance extension cord and plug it into a receptacle in the well house. Make sure that the power cord and extension cord are kept off of the heating element. Make sure that the heating element is not placed against anything that will burn. We insulated our well house all around and on top with dense 2" foam board. Our well house is a 48 " X 48" box with a roof. It's insulated with two dense foam layers to R20.
The storage tank, pump and pipes stay toasty warm with a 450 watt heating element on the floor in extremely cold Northern Michigan weather.

B. Make sure that a door is cracked open between a room that's heated and a room that has unprotected pipes.

C. Exposed pipes must be insulated. Insulation wrap and tape is available for about $3.00 per roll.

D. Use electric heating tape that is designed and sold for this purpose. Wrap the pipes according to package instructions and cover with no more than 1/3 of an inch of pipe insulation wrap.

E. Use foam insulation pipe tubes. Just open the slit on the side and slid the tube over the pipe. It comes in various diameters. Specially cut pipe tubes are available for t joints and corners. These are inexpensive.

F. Leave all faucets, including hot water faucets open to a trickle to help prevent freezing

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