HOUSTON – As this arctic blast rolls through the Houston area, residents are working hard to get ready for whatever comes their way. While knocking off those checklists, we want to provide tips to keep those homes in working condition. Take care of your pipes and sprinklers. It could save you lots of money in costly repairs later.
Sleet and some freezing rain are possible Thursday into Friday morning for southeast Texas. A hard freeze warning will be in place through 9am Friday. These kind of temperatures could possibly damage unprotected outdoor plumbing.
Protect your pipes
I spoke with Abacus Plumbing and The Plumbing Guy about protecting your outdoor pipes. The general advice is to wrap them and keep them dry! If all the pipe sleeves in town are gone, use towels and wrap those with a garbage bag and duct tape them! Abacus sent this chart:
I’ve also had viewers suggest those pool noodles–just cut them and wrap the pipe:
You can also insulate pipes with disposable diapers, which come with tape for easy install — and, after all, they are MADE to insulate, protect and absorb!
You’ll also want to protect sprinkler systems. The Plumbing Guy says simply find the dome on top, turn the blue valves to a cross position, use a flathead screwdriver to drain, then cover. I heard on 104 Radio before that you can also remove a sprinkler head and that will keep the system draining. And don’t forget domestic water wells that you might have. Those need to be protected also.
Turn off the water?
A big question The Plumbing Guy has been getting is whether to turn off the water to the house. You can, but keep in mind that if you have a circulation pump at the tank (or tankless set up) you can burn that pump out if you fail to turn it off. Most people don’t really know if they have one, so the best advice might be to run a trickle of water — if you do that, use the farthest away spigot from where the water comes into the house. For example, if your water comes into the front of the house, trickle a sink or tub in the back of the house. Also, open your cabinets under the sinks to keep the warmer house air flowing in there.
What if the pipes freeze anyway?
First, do not use anti-freeze on a frozen pipe or any kind of blow-torch or flame. Some ideas: run a blow dryer with the hot air pointed to the pipe (I actually did this once and it works, but took hours so I propped the dryer up and left it); an electric heating pad or hot towels wrapped around the pipe will eventually thaw it, or a space heater close enough to the pipe will work.
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