by Plumbers Durban

​Winter is coming – get your plumbing pipes ready!

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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It’s not enough to stock up on firewood and crank up the radiator; other parts of your house also need to prepare for winter, including your household plumbing, seeing as freezing temperatures can cause leaks and breaks in the home. 

See, science tells us that freezing water expands as it becomes ice. Winterising plumbing is recommended when a house will be vacant for a long period of time and no water will be running through the pipes. This process involves emptying the water heater, draining all water from the pipes and filling all fixtures with antifreeze solution.

Have a look at the following steps to effectively winterise your house’s plumbing pipes for winter.

1. Shut off the main water valve, turn off the water pump and –heater to protect heating elements in the water heater when there’s no water inside the tank.

2. Open all drain valves and taps.

Check each one off your list so that you are sure all taps are open. A closed tap could create a vacuum that will hold water inside the pipe.

Ensure all valves and taps remain open throughout winter.

3. With air compressors, blow any excess water out of the pipes.

4. Open the drain valve in the hot water tank and allow it to discharge until empty.

Watch out, as sometimes these hot water tanks don’t have floor drains, meaning you’ll need to connect a garden hose to it.

5. Drain all the water left in the holding tank.

This includes the one located in the rubber diaphragm, the one that is used along with the water tank to build pressure. 

To be extra safe, add some antifreeze to the jet pump case.

6. Flush all toilets to remove as much water as possible.

If you can’t remove all the water from the tanks and toilet bowls, add antifreeze to prevent any water from freezing and cracking the toilet.

7. Check all sink and tub drains that could have drain traps.

Add some antifreeze on each one of them to prevent water from freezing and cracking in the traps.

Preventing freezing pipes

If there’s time, we definitely recommend that you check the conditions of your house’s plumbing to identify the pipes most vulnerable to freezing. Look for pipes located outside walls and windows, uninsulated pipes and pipes installed near unheated spaces.

Keep an eye out for cracks or openings in walls, floors and ceilings. Any holes that you come across must be caulked to keep cold air from entering those gaps.

Focus on the following:

• Insulate pipes with insulation sleeves, wrapping or slip-on foam pipe insulation. Do not leave any gaps without insulation, because cold air can affect the pipe in these spaces. Plastic piping is more tolerant of freezing than old copper or steel water pipes.

• Check the exterior of the house and double check that all visible cracks are sealed. Cold air can enter through the cracks and cause your pipe to freeze. If visible cracks are noticed, seal them using caulking or spray foam to fill the voids.

• Maintain a heating source inside your home to protect pipes against dropping temperatures. 

• It is recommended to maintain a faucet dripping, allowing the water to move freely and continuously to prevent it from freezing.

• Make sure the crawl space is properly insulated. Block all vents that lead to the outside using cardboard or wood. 

• Don't forget the hose bibs. Hose bibs are normally left unattended, which can cause them to burst during the night. Drain hose bibs and insulate with covers. Once this has been completed, deactivate bibs at the shutoff valve. 

Check out these 7 questions you need to ask when hiring a plumber.

What else will you be doing to protect your household this winter?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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