Protect Your Water Softener From A Freeze

Paul From AQUATEX:

Okay, so one of the things specific to the water softener that you can do for freeze prevention, you want to make sure your salt tank is filled more than halfway with salt, as you can see here. And then you can take what’s called a trouble light or a caged light with a low wattage bulb, like 40 watts or lower, and set it down and set it on top of the salt with it on and then put the lid back on it. And then take some moving blankets or old quilts or something and wrap up your tanks and your salt tank as best you can.

And then put a tarp over the top of it and weight it down so it’s not going to get blown away by the wind or whatever. And that will help protect your tanks and the salt tank. All right, so what we’re going to do here is replace this pipe insulation that’s become damaged from weathering due to sun and probably rain, I’m guessing.

That’s a good thing to do every couple years just because of our harsh weather. It just breaks down the pipe insulation and then it doesn’t work properly when you need it to. So what we’ve got here is some foam pipe insulation that you can purchase from a box store or a plumbing supply company. It’s made of foam and it wraps around the pipe here to trap the heat that’s in the water and the pipe inside so it takes much longer to freeze.

And if you notice, there’s a score in the center of it so that you can split it open so that you can wrap it around the pipe and then tape it up to secure it. So now I’m going to cut it to size and I put it on there. And I’m going to cut it at an angle so I can cover around the peak here, make sure I’m covering all parts of the pipe. And if I cut this part here, I can wrap this around from the bottom.

You can see the pipes will come together and seal up, a little bit of a old school geometry for you. One thing you’ll also notice is I’m wearing gloves while doing this just because I don’t want to nick up my fingers with the knife blade or hitting them on the brick or whatever. It’s just better to be safe than sorry. Just putting the tape along the seam where I cut or where it was scored earlier. They do make an insulated tape that you can use as well. Looks like some of the stuff that I took off was of that nature.

I would check it after the end of every about a year, I would say. I would check it after the end of the summer before winter comes along. And you still have time to do this stuff so you’re not in a panic if there’s a freeze coming along. And also just because if you wait too long to do this, it’s going to be very difficult to find the pipe insulation and the supplies to properly protect it.

All right, so one of the things you want to be aware of is that there are different sizes of the pipe insulation. And if you’re insulating PVC that’s one inch in this case, the one inch pipe insulation isn’t necessarily going to cover it. You can see it’s a little short here. That’s because the pipe insulation is sized for according to a different type of pipe, copper or CPVC. So if you’re insulating PVC, you want to go about a half inch larger to enable to get around the fittings and stuff and completely encase the pipe.

Otherwise, you get this big gap and you might as well not have any pipe insulation on it. So in my right hand, I have the old pipe insulation. You can see how it’s a much smaller diameter than the stuff I’m going to install now. And I’m going to take the larger pipe insulation. I think I usually use an inch and a half pipe insulation on the one inch PVC. And I’m just going to re-wrap it so that we get proper coverage.

We’re going to make our cuts again at the corners so that we get around them properly. And this can be a little tricky. You just got to be patient with it and do the best you can. You can always keep your scraps and tape them over the spots that you miss, if you’re not that great at geometry. You want to make sure to tape the parts where the seams come together good. So insulating the pipes is both a preventative and protective purpose. We’re preventing the pipes from freezing by trapping the heat inside of the pipes that’s naturally in the water.

That’s what the insulation does, is traps the heat. We’re also protecting it from the elements, like water that can freeze and cause ice, and also in the summer sun which can bleach out the pipes and dry them out and make them brittle and actually make them more susceptible to freeze damage. So it’s a multi-seasonal purpose. On these long vertical runs, you can hold the insulation together at the seam there and then run a piece of duct tape down the seam to seal it up.

Some of the pipe insulation actually has adhesive on that scored part. Where it’s scored here, it’ll have two-sided tape on both sides and you remove the backing and then the insulation will stick together. And then you don’t need the tape to seal it up. So it can be a little tricky to get the little curves on your fittings, like the 90s and stuff.

That’s why I’m cutting at an angle using my triangles to piece together. If you see here, I got two triangles and they fit together at a 90. You’d have the outside of a 90 and then the inside. That’s how the geometry comes into play when you’re doing this, so try to keep that in mind when you’re cutting. And not just make straight cuts because they won’t fit together properly and you’ll have gaps. Make it a little tricky, but, like I said, you can always save your scrap pieces and fill in the gaps and tape over them.

All right. And I’d say one of the most helpful tips for everybody out there is to pick a nice warm day in the fall on a weekend and take care of all of this then so you don’t have to be in a rush, fighting everybody for supplies at the box stores two days before the freeze is supposed to hit.

 

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