One sure-fire way to save money on your home maintenance is to winterize your plumbing, as frozen pipes can burst, break or otherwise make your life miserable. Save the cost of the emergency plumbing fees from decimating your savings account, and putting the plumber’s children through Ivy League schools instead of your own children. For those of you who own a cottage, trailer home, trailer and/or tent trailer (pretty much anything with installed plumbing), knowing the ins and outs of properly winterizing your plumbing can save you a whole lot of money in the short term, and even more in the long term.
With proper maintenance, plumbing pipes will retain their strength and durability, and there will not be much water leakage, wasting water and costing you money for no reason other than forgetting to winterize your plumbing. The first rule of thumb is to work on any pipes that are exposed to the elements first, and then work your way indoors. The first things to investigate and winterize would be septic pumps, water pumps, toilets and water heaters (which should be emptied and turned off), and irrigation pipes and valves.
Make sure that all wiring is clean, and the connections tight and secure. If there is any burning or splitting of any wires, replace them immediately. Do not simply cut off the burnt or otherwise affected portion of a wire, replace the entire wire, along with any serialized splits. Cover the exposed parts of wire with electrical tape, which will insulate the exposed wire to a certain degree, as long as you use insulating electrical tape.
While winterizing your plumbing, inspect all pipes for corrosion, indicators of water condensation (water forming on or dripping off of pipes and/or connectors), and rust. Replace the corroded portions of pipe using the proper connectors and clamps (if necessary), and insulate all of the exposed pipes with pipe insulation, rated to at least 10 Degrees lower than the normally lowest occurring temperature for your geographical area.
All irrigation pipes should have been installed with winterizing insulation, but if that step was missed when installing the system, the work, time and cost involved in winterizing your irrigation pipes may not be worth it in the long term. And, if there is no irrigation system, make sure that all exterior water pipes are turned off from the inside of the house, and the pipes cleared of water with a burst of high-power air, or run the spigot until no water comes out at all.
If you are leaving the residence for the winter, and moving on to warmer climes until spring finally springs, all water and sewage pipes should be purged of any existing moisture. You should have this done professionally, as it is insured, and any problems arising from the involved pipes would be repaired by them when you return in the spring or summer.
Before blasting air through your water pipes to eliminate any moisture, you should first blast the pipes with high-pressure water. This clears any minor blockages, and removes rust and iron build up, as well as clearing any pockets of water. When clearing the pipes with air, all faucets and drains should be open, so that any water build ups anywhere will be cleared out. Leave the faucets open while doing this, as well as while you are gone for the winter.
And last, but nowhere least, make sure that you have proper insurance, and keep it active. The few dollars per month for insurance would be well spent with just one pipe bursting. In order to have insurance for water pipes and sewage systems over the winter, you most likely will need to have the winterizing done by an approved and accredited plumbing winterizing service, and possibly inspected by an approved building inspector.
With the proper winter insulation and pipe clearing, your home, cottage, trailer or whatever should easily make it through the winter, without the plumbing pipes and other components bursting due to water freezing and expanding (and other moist things). So, save yourselves some major headaches and expensive, emergency plumber visits, by knowing how to winterize your plumbing.