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How to frost-proof your plumbing

OUTDOOR FAUCETS. Remove hoses from all outside faucets when freezing weather approaches. Shut off the water to the faucet at the shutoff valve inside. Drain the pipe from the shut off to the spout by opening a waste nut on the shutoff and the outside faucet itself.


IMMINENT DANGER OF FREEZING. Leave vulnerable lines open to a fast drip if you suspect any of your supply pipes may be in imminent danger of freezing. Even slowly moving water will not freeze. This may not be water and energy efficient (although if youíre around, you can collect water in a bucket), but it gives you time to come up with a permanent solution.


PIPES NEAR EXTERIOR WALLS. Permit air to circulate from the heated interior of the house to plumbing near outside walls. This could mean opening the dishwasher door and service panel, sink cabinet doors, and plumbed rooms that arenít heated directly. WARN N G Inappropriate warming of pipes is a major cause of house fires.


AIR LEAKS NEAR PIPES. Seal gaps that can jet cold air onto pipes. Use caulk for small gaps and expanding foam or fiberglass for large gaps. WARNING Expanding foam expands more than you think it will and cures to an unsightly rust color when exposed to sun.


INSULATE SUPPLY PIPES. Insulate pipes that pass through unavoidably cold spaces like crawl spaces and attics. Measure a pipeís diameter by closing an adjustable wrench on it and then measuring the span of the wrench jaws. Measure the length of pipes to be insulated so you know how many linear feet of insulation to buy. Buy self-sealing side-slit foam tubes for pipes of your diameter(s). Cut double 45-degree notches with a scissors to turn corners (inset photo). Seal all slits and joints that are not self-adhering with foil tape.


PIPES EXPOSED TO BELOW FREEZING TEMPERATURES for long periods will insulated or not. Wrap your most vulnerable pipes with U.L. approved thermostatically controlled heat cables according to manufacturer instructions. In the long run, these pipes should be moved to a more protected location or the thermal envelope should be extended to include the pipes.


PIPE UNIONS. For irregular and jointed pipes, use fiberglass strip insulation secured with foil tape. Wind the insulation in an overlapping spiral. The tape should not compress the fiberglass too tightly and should form a continuous vapor seal to prevent condensation on the pipes in the summer.


WHILE YOUíRE AWAY. Donít set the thermo stat below 55 degrees F, and have somebody who knows how to shut off the water check on the house daily.





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