Wright Way Contracting, LLC
Dec 14, 2013
There is a reason we talk every year about the preparation of the warmer and colder weather as the seasons change. There are many things that can help maintain your home and its mechanical systems, and make energy efficiency better. There are others that we talk about just to avoid damage. If you live in a place has regularly has freezing temperatures, or even has the potential for freezing temperatures, ther are some preccaution you should take to avoid freezing pipes. Although we talked about this at the beginning of the season, I want to re-address this with some examples of problems.
This is a common vacuum breaking backflow preventer feeding the irrigation line to a home.
This one was covered by a fake rock. I am sure you have seen these, which cover the ugly of having pipes stick up in your front yard, however, they don't offer much insulation from temperature by themselves. Most of the time there is an easy to access shut off valve to turn off watger to this system for the winter, as you cannot water the plants and grass below freezing or with snow on the ground anyway. This one was left on and forgotten for the winter. Here are some pictures of what can happen to pipe when it freezes.
You can see the the pvc pipe is crack and broken cross and lengthwise. The ice expands inside the pipe as it freezes and can destroy the pipe. This is not only true of the pvc, but brass, cast, steel, copper, and really most types of pipe have a point where they will break under the expansion pressures of ice. Here is a picture of the same backflow valve where the brass shut off is.
You can see the side wall split right open. Ice can be very powerful as it slowly expands with great force. This might not have happened if the water hd been shut off to this system for the winter, but even if there was still a pipe break, it would not have destroyed all of the pipe that it dit in this case and there would have been no water after the shut off, so the expese to fix would have still been less.
I would suggest that for pipes like these
...you should wrap them in any number of pipe insulation types or even heat tape which plugs in and heats the pipe from freezing when it detects below freezing temperatures.
They also make insulated covers for set ups like this
Due to the cold, you can put this type of insulated cover right over the insulation wrapped pipes. Then if desired you can finally add the fake rock over the cover, like this one...
This can obviously be pretty extreme on exterior pipes, but when it is very cold, pipes can freeze for the inside of the house as well. Be prepared ahead of the cold, and remember that a frozen pipe can be warmed slowly with a hair dryer to get it flowing again if you catch it before there is any damage done. Always know where your water sut off valves are located for just such an emergency. Hope this will keep some of you out there from having the same issues in the future.
Oct 14, 2013
We are coming into the cooler weather, and winter is fast approaching from the property maintenance standpoint. Now is a great time to make sure heaters are fired up and working as well as changing air filters for the new season of use if you haven't done it yet. We mentioned previously flushing and mantining water heaters, but really all water systems should be evaluated now as the cool down starts. Watering your grass or garden varies during this time of the year and you should be thinking about changing your sprinkler timers, or in some locations they can be turned off the entire season. If you are not using outdoor, exposed hose bibs or irrigation, most have shut off valves that you can turn off completely for the season so that water is not sitting in the exposed pipes to freeze, and break the line or cause damage. Most of you will have some type of irrigation valves that look like this.These valves should be covered in an irrigation valvebox where freezing is possible and where temperatures regularly dip below freezing, you can also surround the valves with insulation around them in the box to keep them from freezing and breaking. Remeber that water standing in the freezing temperatures is prone to freezing and can do lots of pipe damage. This can apply if you have pools, hoses, irrigation, or even if you are in a home that is not well insulated against this such as mobile homes. The best bet is to keep any pipes that normall have water, drained during this time. One tip I have heard out there regularly if you are having an extreme cold spell and you are prone to freezing pipes like in a mobile home, is to leave the faucets running slowly over night when it is coldest as water is les likely to freeze in a pipe when moving, then when still. Just remember with this to take into account your drain. Make sure if you do this, that your drain line is not exposed to the elements, as it too can freeze, which would block the drain and cause an overflow in a faucet left running. Contact us for questions, or for a property evaluation, and or help insulating your pipes or home, and for help finding your shut off valves.