For all you summer loving folks, I’m very sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s almost time to put the bikini away and break out the fuzzy sweaters! Yes folks, winter is around the corner. What does this have to do with plumbing? A lot!

In central NC, we don’t get a lot of freezing temperatures, but it seems that every year, for up to a week, we don’t see temperatures above 32 degrees. When this happens, you need to take several simple precautions, so let’s talk about them.

1) Close the foundation vents and check for leaks

First, near the end of October, if your house is built on a crawl space, you’ll need to crawl under there and close the foundation vents. While you’re underneath the house, you might as well look around to make sure there aren’t any signs of leaks and to make sure all the insulation is properly in place.

2) Remove garden hoses and anything attached to the outside faucet

Next, you’ll need to remove all garden hoses and any other splitters, timers or whatever else you have on the outside faucet. For added protection, you can install an insulated outdoor foam faucet cover. If you have an outdoor kitchen or shower, you’ll want to drain the water and put antifreeze in the traps.

3) Additional steps to take

When the cold officially arrives, you may need to take a few additional steps. If you have plumbing on an outside wall, you’ll want to leave the cold water trickling, and open the cabinet doors under the sink. The open cabinets will allow warm air to circulate underneath the sink where the plumbing usually comes in. Letting the water trickle will keep the water from freezing, since moving water doesn’t freeze like sitting water does. This will also ensure that your water main doesn’t freeze, since water will be constantly running through it. Turn the heat up a little higher and leave it up when you leave the house–this will help keep the house warm and protect the waterlines from freezing and breaking.

4) What to do if you suddenly have no water

Uh oh, now it’s January and you didn’t take my advice and you have no water–what now? We have a lot of people call each year with this issue, saying “It’s the weirdest thing, I woke up and there was no water, but when I went to sleep last night there was water! What happened?”  My response is always the same: “Your water is frozen”.  “WHAT?” That’s right, your water froze overnight while you were asleep.  Relax, the most important thing to do at this point is to call your plumber in a tizzy! No, in all seriousness, the most important thing to do is to open a couple of faucets to allow the water to start to flow and aid in the thawing process. Next, and this might sound silly or even obtuse, but hey, it’s what needs to be done to fully thaw the frozen pipe: Apply heat to the affected areas. This can be done by using a space heater or a heat gun (a hair dryer can also be used, though it takes longer). You’ll also want to check for leaks as you’re doing this (better to find them now rather than after the mold starts growing). Outdoor faucets might not start to leak until you use it in the spring. Frost-proof hose bibs are set to automatically shut off inside the wall to prevent freezing, but when you leave a hose on, it will split, and you won’t see the leak until you turn it on again. The classic sign of a frozen hose bib is leaking from behind the siding.

The local news channels and radio stations will alert you when a freeze is imminent, so please take the warning seriously and follow the simple precautions outlined above, or you may end up spending thousands of dollars on home repairs.

As always, the experts at Raleigh Plumbing are ready to help you with any and all of your plumbing needs, so give us a call at (919) 821-2300 today.