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DIY Winterizing Checklist

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How to avoid calling a plumber this weekend.

No one loves a plumbing emergency. And while we’re happy to be your Tulsa plumber when you need us, we’d rather help you avoid a disaster to begin with. This McKinney plumber has some great tips to prevent damage this winter.

Damage from burst water pipes is the second most common homeowner’s insurance claim in the United States, averaging $10,000 per event. One of the best ways to stay problem-free is to do some preventive maintenance. Now that it’s officially fall, it’s the perfect time to winterize your plumbing.

Winterizing Tip #1 – Insulate Your Pipes

As you know from freshman chemistry class, water expands when it freezes. Your pipes do not. So if water freezes inside your pipes, two things can happen: Either the pipe will fracture at the point where it’s frozen—which will cause a flood eventually—or water will back up behind the frozen spot and burst your pipe right now—which will cause a flood immediately.

In the Tulsa area, we can have several good nights of freezing temperatures, so it’s a great idea to insulate those exposed pipes—particularly those near exterior walls and in unheated areas of your home such as crawl spaces and attics. Your local home improvement store will have everything you need: polyethylene or fiberglass insulation tubes (choose a size that matches the outside diameter of your pipes), something to cut it with, and duct tape to secure it.

Winterizing Tip #2 – Seal Off Crawl Spaces and Cracks

The basic idea of winterizing is to limit your pipes’ exposure to cold air. Using cardboard and duct tape, seal off ventilated crawl spaces, and cover cracks in windows, exterior walls, and your foundation.

Winterizing Tip #3 – Leave Cabinet Doors Open

If your kitchen and bathroom sinks are against exterior walls of your home, leave the cabinet and vanity doors open to allow warm air in. In especially cold climates, it’s helpful to use a small space heater in those areas.

Winterizing Tip #4 – Prep Well for Vacations

If you plan to be away from your home during cold weather, don’t turn off your heat. Instead, adjust it to 55F or warmer to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting while you’re away. (That would not be a great way to end your Christmas vacation.) In addition, turn off the main water supply to your home and drain all of your pipes by opening all faucets and flushing your toilets. No water means no problems.

If we expect an extremely cold winter, consider having a plumber do an inspection, drain the hot water heater, and infuse some non-toxic antifreeze into your system. (We happen to have some recommendations for the best plumber in Tulsa, if you’re interested.)

Winterizing Tip #5 – Let Some Faucets Drip

If you’re expecting a cold snap, allow faucets along exterior walls to drip a tiny bit. That prevents pressure from building up in the event of a freeze, which may keep the pipe from bursting. For sinks with double knobs, turn them both on; otherwise, the closed side could still freeze.

Winterizing Tip #6 – Don’t Neglect Your Outside Faucets

Detach garden hoses from your exterior faucets and drain them before winter. If you don’t have frost-free spigots, you’ll need to winterize them, too. Simply close the valve to the faucet, drain any remaining water, and install a foam cover. If you have a lawn sprinkler system, you’ll need to turn off and drain those lines, too.

Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll avoid a burst pipe, so be sure you know where your main water valve is. In an emergency, close that valve immediately, and then call for professional help.

Wooten Plumbing would love a chance to look over your home before the bad winter weather strikes.

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