No matter where in your plumbing system a pipe bursts, it is never a good thing. It will always cost you a hefty sum to repair and there could be damage to other parts of your home or your belongings too. Here are a few simple tips for actions you can take throughout the year to ensure your pipes won't freeze and burst when the weather turns cold.
When the weather first starts to turn warm again, go outside and check the outdoor plumbing. Turn on the water to any sprinkler systems, hose faucets, fountains or plumbed outbuildings. Make sure the water is flowing at regular pressure. If the water is just trickling out, or not flowing at all, you will need to investigate. There could be water frozen in the pipes that stops the flow, or you could have a burst pipe.
If you cannot find the problem after thoroughly looking at all the exposed plumbing outside, it is time to call for professional plumbing services (from companies such as Sunset Professional Plumbing Services Inc.). It is important you do not wait to have the issue resolved. If the pipe is burst, you could have water pouring into the ground. This not only wastes water, but can create damage to your foundation. If the problem is frozen water in the line, a professional knows how to unfreeze it without causing any damage.
Every summer, you need to go over your entire plumbing system to look for areas that are poorly insulated. Add insulating pipe sleeves, fill any holes around pipes and add extra insulation to the areas where plumbing comes into and goes out of the building. Repair any joints or pipes that are leaking, even if only a little drop.
As the weather turns cold again, it is time to check the outdoor plumbing again. Empty the swimming pool and any water fountains. Shut the water valve to the yard off. Use an air compressor and blow air through the system. Be sure that the other end of the pipe is not closed or blocked to keep the air pressure from causing damage. Pay special attention to an underground irrigation system. Even a small amount of water can freeze and contract, bursting a pipe.
If you have animals that live outside and need fresh water, contact a plumber about putting in a line that runs directly to the water trough. This allows you to shut down the rest of the yard while providing water to your animals.
Leave the cabinet doors under the sinks open to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes. If there are any pipes that run along the outside of the building, or through an unheated basement, wrap them with heat tape. If you have an outdoor spigot used for watering animals, be sure to keep the water trickling at all times. Running water will not freeze.
Even if your home was weatherized last year, it is important to make sure that everything stayed intact over time. It doesn't take much to inspect the entire plumbing system a couple of times a year. While it may seem like a waste of time, you will be glad you did when the neighbor is complaining of water damage to the floor of his bathroom because of a burst pipe.