Now that the holiday season is here, we know that many of you will be traveling to see family and friends all across the country (or maybe you’re just looking for a warmer climate). Either way, the fact remains that it gets very cold here in the Philadelphia area, so what should you do if your house is going to be vacant for a week or two? Any time your house will be unoccupied during the winter, it’s a good idea to winterize your plumbing to prevent frozen pipes and other issues that could potentially cause thousands of dollars in damage. Here are some tips from Drainworks Plumbing and Heating to help you get your house ready for the harsh Philadelphia winter:
Shutting Off the Water
Any time there’s standing water in your pipes during the winter, it has the potential to freeze. When water freezes it expands, creating enough force to crack or shatter any kind of pipe – even steel is not strong enough to withstand it. The first step you should take when winterizing your plumbing is to shut off the water main supplying your house. Once the water supply is shut off, you can get started draining the remaining water from all your fixtures.
Draining Your Water Heater
There are some special considerations to take when draining your water heater, or any other fixture that contains a heating element. First, it’s important to shut off the power to the water heater, which can usually be achieved by shutting it off at the breaker box. This will prevent the heating elements from melting down when the water is removed from the tank. Once the power is off, it’s safe to drain the water out; just be careful as this water can be extremely hot. If you don’t have a floor drain, you’ll have to attach a hose to the water heater’s outlet valve and drain the water into a bucket.
Remove All Standing Water
Next, you’ll have to go around the house and open every single valve on every fixture. This includes sinks, tubs, showers, toilets, and anything else you can think of that’s hooked up to the water main. Open the valve and let the water drain out until it’s empty, then leave the valve open so it doesn’t create a vacuum that prevents water from draining out in other areas. If you’re concerned that some water is left in the pipes, you can use canned compressed air to blow it out. When it comes to toilets, flush them multiple times until no more water fills the bowl. There can still be some water left in the toilet’s trap, so you may want to pour a bit of anti-freeze down there to prevent it from freezing and cracking the bowl. This tip also applies to sink drains and any other traps you can think of.
If you follow these tips, your pipes should be protected from freezing indefinitely, whether you’re out for a few weeks or the entire winter. Of course, if you come home to a cracked pipe, Drainworks Plumbing and Heating should be your first call. Dial (215) 333-8780 to schedule a free estimate. Don’t forget that we perform emergency plumbing services 24 hours a day, whether it’s an evening, weekend, or holiday, so don’t hesitate to call us any time you need us!