Temperatures seldom drop below freezing in Houston. That’s why so many of us are unprepared. You hear the warnings: protect pets, plants and pipes. But, what’s the right way to prevent burst pipes?
Preventing Burst Pipes
Pipes don’t just freeze. They burst. That’s because water expands when it freezes. Pressure grows until there’s one way out: burst pipes.
Taking simple preventative measures can save you time and money—and head off a mess. All you need is insulation, duct tape and a screwdriver.
First, don’t get hosed
Chances are, there’s standing water in your garden hoses that needs a way out when it expands. Leaving hoses connected during a freeze can damage your hose bib and possibly cause burst pipes. Start preparations by disconnecting all hoses.
Wrap pipes the right way
It’s not enough to just wrap foam around pipes. Make sure there is no air space; air at freezing temperatures leads to burst pipes. After covering pipes with foam, tighten the fit with duct tape. Be sure to cover any gaps.
Beware wet blankets
If you use towels or blankets to cover hose bibs or valves, make sure they’re dry. A wet blanket is like no blanket at all. Tighten them down with zip straps (aka wire ties) or duct tape. Then, keep them dry with a secure plastic covering.
Help your hose bibs
Covers come in a variety of styles. Make sure they’re snug on hose bib covers so air can’t reach the tap or pipe. Given the changing nature of our winters, it’s a good idea just to leave them on all winter.
Prevent burst pipes waterworks
The most common location of burst pipes in Houston are backflow preventers on sprinkler systems. Because they’re installed above ground, these devices are sitting ducks in a freeze.
First turn off the supply valve, then the feed valve. Then, turn the relief valves a half turn. Start with the top, then the bottom one, allowing all the water bleed out.
Passing freezes are the worst
Chances are you’d be more prepared if temperatures stayed low. When our weather varies from 85 degrees one week, and freezes the next, it’s easy to forget your pipes are out there through it all. Keep them safe. The same goes for your pets and plants, of course.