Winter is a beautiful season, but it can also bring harsh weather conditions that can wreak havoc on your garden's plumbing system.
One of the most common problems homeowners face during winter is frozen pipes and faucets.
When water freezes inside pipes, it expands, causing the pipes to crack or burst, leading to severe damage to your home's plumbing system and costly repairs.
However, you can avoid this headache by taking a few simple steps to prevent frozen pipes in your garden.
In this blog post, we will discuss six fall prep steps that you can take to keep your garden's pipes and faucets from freezing during the cold winter months.
Step 1. Drain and Disconnect Outdoor Hoses
Before the frost arrives, it's important to drain and disconnect your outdoor hoses.
When water is left inside the hose, it can freeze and expand, causing it to burst. This can lead to a huge mess and costly repairs.
To prevent this from happening, start by turning off the outdoor faucet and disconnecting the hose from the spigot.
Then, hold the hose at a downward angle to allow any remaining water to drain out. Once the hose is empty, coil it up and store it in a dry place.
Drain any other outdoor water fixtures, such as sprinklers and pool equipment, is also important. If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, follow the manufacturer's instructions for winterizing it.
Step 2. Insulate Outdoor Pipes and Faucets
Insulation will help to keep the heat inside the pipes and prevent them from freezing. Here are a few tips to help you insulate your outdoor pipes and faucets:
Use Pipe Insulation
Pipe insulation is a cost-effective way to keep your pipes warm during winter.
This foam tube fits around your pipes and helps to keep the heat inside.
Insulate Outdoor Faucets
Outdoor faucets are particularly vulnerable to freezing, which can cause them to crack or burst.
Using a foam faucet cover, you can prevent cold air from getting inside and keep your outdoor faucets from freezing.
Seal Any Air Leaks
Air leaks in your home can cause your pipes to freeze. Check for gaps or cracks in your walls or foundation and seal them with caulking or weatherstripping to prevent cold air from getting inside and keep your pipes warm.
Remember, the minimum temperature to keep pipes from freezing is around 32°F. Properly insulating your outdoor pipes and faucets can help prevent them from freezing and avoid costly repairs.
Step 3. Seal Any Cracks or Gaps in Exterior Walls
Sealing any cracks or gaps in your exterior walls is an important step when it comes to preventing frozen pipes and faucets in your garden.
Cracks and crevices can let in cold air and cause your pipes to freeze.
Here are some tips to help you seal any cracks or gaps in your exterior walls:
- Walk around your home and identify problem areas. Look for any cracks or gaps in your exterior walls, especially around windows, doors, and pipes that enter or exit your home.
- Use caulk to seal small cracks and gaps. Caulk is a flexible material that can expand and contract with temperature changes. Apply caulk to any small cracks or holes in your exterior walls.
- Use expandable foam spray to seal more significant gaps. If you find any larger cracks in your exterior walls, you can use expandable foam spray to seal them. This spray foam expands to fill the gap and creates a tight seal that can help prevent cold air from entering your home.
- Consider adding weatherstripping to doors and windows. Weatherstripping is a material that can be added to the edges of doors and windows to create a tight seal. This can help prevent cold air from entering your home and keep your pipes from freezing.
Step 4. Keep Garage Doors Closed
One of the easiest ways to prevent frozen pipes in your garden is to keep your garage doors closed.
If you have water supply lines in your garage, keeping the doors closed is important to maintain a warmer temperature.
This will prevent the water supply lines from freezing and potentially bursting.
When the temperature drops, it's common for homeowners to leave their garage doors open for extended periods.
However, this can cause the temperature in the garage to drop significantly, putting your pipes at risk.
You can maintain a consistent temperature and prevent any potential damage by keeping the garage doors closed.
It's also important to note that if you have any harmful cleaners or household chemicals stored in your garage, you should move them up out of the reach of children.
This will ensure that they are not accidentally ingested or spilled, which can be dangerous.
In addition to keeping your garage doors closed, you can open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate the plumbing. This is especially important if your sinks are on an exterior wall.
By allowing warmer air to circulate the pipes, you can prevent them from freezing and potentially bursting.
Step 5. Let Faucets Drip During Freezing Temperatures
When the temperature drops below freezing, taking precautions is essential to prevent your pipes from freezing and bursting.
One simple step you can take is to let your faucets drip. This may seem counterintuitive, as allowing your faucets to run can waste water and increase your water bill.
However, the cost of a burst pipe and water damage can be much higher than that of a dripping faucet.
According to experts, letting your faucets drip can help prevent frozen pipes by keeping water flowing through your pipes.
When water flows, it creates friction and heat, which can help prevent the water from freezing. By letting your faucets drip, you can also relieve pressure in your pipes, which can help prevent them from bursting if they do freeze.
To let your faucets drip, turn on a faucet in your home and let it run at a slow trickle.
You don't need to let all of your faucets drip, just one or two in areas of your home that are most susceptible to freezing, such as those located on exterior walls or in unheated areas like garages or basements.
It's important to note that you don't need to let your faucets drip continuously.
Instead, you can turn them on for a few minutes every hour to keep the water flowing. This can help prevent your pipes from freezing without wasting too much water.
If you're concerned about the cost of letting your faucets drip, remember that the water you're using is relatively tolerable.
Letting a faucet drip slowly will fill a gallon pitcher in about an hour and cost about 2 cents per night. This is a small price to pay compared to the cost of repairing a burst pipe and water damage.
Step 6. Install Frost-Free Hose Bibs
Try to install frost-free hose bibs or spigots.
A frost-free hose bib is an outdoor faucet that prevents freezing during cold weather. It has a long stem that extends into the house, where the water supply is located.
This design ensures the water supply is kept warm and insulated, preventing it from freezing.
- Gather tools and materials: Collect all the tools and materials required for the installation process, including a drill, pipe wrench, Teflon tape, and a frost-free hose bib.
- Turn off the water supply: Before starting the installation process, turn off the water supply to the outdoor faucet to prevent water from flowing while you're working.
- Remove old spigot: Using a pipe wrench, turn the outside of the faucet counterclockwise to remove it. You may need a friend to hold the pipe steady while you turn the spigot.
- Install new hose bib and check for level and tightness: Insert the stem of the new frost-free hose bib into the pipe and tighten it with a pipe wrench. Ensure that the hose bib is level and pointing downwards for proper drainage.
- Turn on the water supply and check for leaks: Turn on the water supply and check for any leaks. Turn off the water supply and tighten the connections with a pipe wrench if you notice any leaks.
Taking the necessary steps to prevent frozen pipes and faucets in your garden is crucial to avoid costly repairs and inconvenience during the winter months.
Following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure that your plumbing system is well-prepared for the colder temperatures.
So, stay proactive and take the necessary steps to prevent frozen pipes and faucets in your garden this fall!