Winterizing

snowWhen Autumn approaches the Trinity Lake area, members of the Covington Mill Mutual Water Company should already be preparing for cold and freezing weather that could arrive at any time.  When the temperature drops below 33 degrees the potential for frozen pipes becomes a real issue. Advanced planning for cold weather can help you escape the possibility of tremendous damage to your home and its contents. A crack in a water pipe as small as 1/8 inch can leak up to 250 gallons of water a day and the ensuing floodwaters can mean major structural damage and set the stage for mold issues down the road.
Up to 250,000 homes every year are ruined by damage caused by frozen water pipes. Water pipes freeze because of three main causes:
1. A rapid drop in temperature.
2. Inadequate insulation.
3. A thermostat that is set too low.

Keeping these three causes in mind, there is a number of things you can do to protect your investment. You can’t control the weather but you can minimize its effects by providing insulation or heat tape to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Do this in the warmer month to prepare for the cold winters.Any pipes that are exposed are the most susceptible to freezing. In addition to outdoor hose bibs, this also means crawl spaces under the floors and pipes in the attic. Foam pipe insulation is available in many types, styles and thicknesses. It does not guarantee that your pipes won’t freeze but it keeps them from freezing for a longer period of time.Heat tape, or heat cable can provide excellent protection against frozen pipes. It is widely available at hardware stores and is usually thermostatically controlled to activate at freezing temperatures and below. Be sure to follow the manufacturers instructions when installing heat tape or cable. Also, be aware, that it does require electricity and will not protect your pipes in the event of a sustained power outage.Sealing small leaks in your home can go a long way to help protect against frozen water pipes. Identify leaks around pipes, electrical wiring, dryer vents, etc. and seal them with caulking or insulation.Remember to disconnect all outdoor hoses and drain the sprinkler system if you have one.On really cold nights and days, you may want to let you faucets drip or trickle. Running water does not freeze nearly as easily as a closed faucet. Also keep the thermostat at 55 degrees or higher and open up cabinet doors below sinks to allow for better heat transfer to non-insulated pipes underneath.

If you leave in the winter:

Many Trinity Lake Residents prefer to relocate during the cold winter months for places a bit warmer.  In this case “You Must Shut Off Water to Your Property at the Curb (Meter) Box”.

It is best to drain your water system completely or have it winterized professionally. Pipes with no water in them won’t burst.

If Your Pipes Freeze…

First of all, never use a flame torch to thaw frozen pipes. Its too dangerous.

You will be able to tell if your water pipes are frozen because when you turn on the faucet little or no water comes out. If you discover a frozen pipe you need to take immediate steps to thaw it.

The first thing to do is to open the faucet even if you can’t tell where it is frozen yet. Then follow the pipe back to where it comes in contact with a cold area. This might be where the pipe goes through an exterior wall or crawl space or maybe in the attic.

You might find that the frozen part of the pipe has frost on it or is covered with ice. It might even be bulging from interior pressure. Make sure you know where to shut off the water to your home at the water main. If the pipe breaks while you are attempting to thaw it, you must immediately turn off the water main.There are several ways to attempt thawing a frozen pipe. You can simply turn up the heat in your home and wait for it to thaw. You can use a portable electric heater or a heat lamp.  You can also use heat tape or cable purchased from a hardware store. In the Trinity Lake area most plumbers have professional equipment to thaw your pipes quickly, so call a plumber if you have any serious concerns. Plumbers in the area can also provide winterizing services to your home if you plan to leave the area during the cold winter months