How Snowbirds Can Winterize Home Pipes

Preparing Your Home for Winter Months

Tips for Snowbirds: How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Winter is coming and in the middle of all of the hubbub of the holiday season, you’re looking forward to heading south for the winter to your new beachfront property. You’ve taken care of home security systems, newspaper delivery, the refrigerator, and freezer. And you’ve wired your gutters to prevent ice dams. Your friends and family have your contact information. An important home maintenance issue as well is to make sure that you winterize your water pipes. The last thing you want is to return home to water damage and broken pipes. Here are some tips on how snowbirds can winterize home pipes.

Set Your Home Temperature

Make sure your heating system is set to be no lower than 55 degrees. This will help ensure that your indoor plumbing keeps from freezing. The problem with freezing pipes begins when the outside temperature goes down to 20 degrees or below. Pipes conduct heat. So those that are relatively warm inside, for example, pipes that are 55 degrees or more, will carry some of that heat outside. In turn, this will help keep the portion of the pipe that is outside from freezing.

Keeping water heaters running will also help the hot water lines. Save money by turning down the hot water heater thermostat from where you normally have it but don’t turn the water heater off completely.

It’s not a good idea to turn your heating system off completely. While that will save money and energy, it could lead to a very expensive cleanup and repair should a pipe crack and start leaking.

Winterize Your Drains

Drain pipes can freeze as well. So again it is important to keep your thermostat at 55 degrees or above.

You should also treat your drains before you leave. A natural drain treatment is to use 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of baking soda, and 1/4 cup cream of tartar. Follow that up after a period of time with two cups of boiling water.

If you have a bathroom in a cooler part of the house, take extra care to treat the tank and bowl. The DIY Network has excellent advice here on how to winterize a toilet.

Shut off the Water

Shutting off the water is the single best thing you can do to prevent frozen pipes inside your home. Find the main shutoff valve for your home water supply and turn it off.

Open Outdoor Spigots

Leaking Outdoor Faucet

After you turn off your main water supply valve, go ahead and open your outdoor spigots. Water expands when it freezes. By opening your outdoor spigots, you’re releasing any built up pressure that’s in the pipes.

That way should ice start forming in your outdoor pipes, it won’t be forming in pipes that are already under pressure. That will help prevent the pipes from cracking and forming leaks.

Enjoy Your Time in the Sun!

Enjoy your extended period of time away from your home. You’ve earned it! Enjoy it with the peace of mind that comes from having prepared it for the cold weather. Alarm systems can tell you if an emergency has occurred, but it’s better to have prepared your home to minimize any emergency.

Featured photo courtesy of Sam Beasley.