Jan 4, 2016

PSA: Today Is The Day

It happens every year.  

I've learned from experience, the experience of others.  


5 Day Forecast for Atlanta area 

Every year when the first "below freezing temps" are forecast, I know it's time. 

Time to shut the water off to the spigots outside, one on each side of the house. 

Time  to cover the actual spigots with domes, not sure if this helps, but it's recommended.  I always have my little helpers, Maddie and Morgan, they love anything to do with the hose and the possibility of playing with the water. 

Morgan approves of the "dome" 

And then there is the FAUCET DRIPPING strategy and techniques.  

Thanks for the internet and all the self-help articles and post available, the number 1 reminder included in every post: "dripping water all night" is much cheaper than fixing pipes that have burst or broken due to freezing. 

This article ran last year in a New Orleans newspaper.  

As we brace for yet another winter storm, I called William B. Rose, an architect and senior researcher at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Rose and fellow senior researcher Jeffrey Gordon spent two years back in the mid-1990s researching the affects of freezes on plumbing. 
Reached on Monday afternoon at his office in Champaign, Il., -- where the temperature was hovering about 7 degrees and was predicted to drop into the "minus teens tonight and tomorrow," he said -- Rose outlined the facts about burst pipes. An edited transcript of our conversation is below.
Q: My husband and I have been debating whether we could get away with just running the cold water. Is it important to run the hot, too?
A: Yes, in fact, if you contact plumbers who repair pipes following a freeze, they're likely to say 70 percent or more of the pipes they repair are the hot water pipes.
You have to understand the way pipes burst. If the pipe is surrounded by cold air, especially cold wind, it will start ice growth. The ice grows from the wall of the pipe inward, until it reaches blockage, then ice grows along the length of the pipe. That growth along the length of the pipe acts like a piston that elevates the water pressure in the pipe. It's the pressure that causes the rupture.
Q: So why does that mean hot water pipes are more likely to burst?
A: It's the toilet. Often you have one line that feeds a bathroom: the tub, toilet, lavatory all coming off the same line. If you imagine pressure building up in the water line, all it has to do is force the ball float to go down a little (in the toilet tank), allowing water to dribble into the tank, relieving the pressure on the cold water pipe (The hot water pipe doesn't have that relief).
Q: Do you need to keep the water running in a pencil-thin stream? Or will just a drip work?
A: It doesn't matter how fast the drip is. The slower the drip, the less water wasted. The rupture is due to the pressure. If you have some kind of pressure relief (by leaving the faucet open), the (ice) piston can keep on pushing but nothing will rupture

Q: Should you still run the water if you've insulated your pipes?
A: An incomplete insulation job is probably worse than no insulation. If you're using the foam tubes, you have to look very closely at what's happening at the plumbing fittings, the elbow or tee. Lots of times, people will put the tube on the straight section and leave the fittings exposed. You really want to protect the whole pipe and fittings. If you do that, you're probably OK in Louisiana."
Q: Our weather reports always talk about hard freezes and light freezes. When should you worry about your pipes?
A: It's not just cold temperatures, but cold temperatures blowing on the pipe. The wind is the real kicker. Protecting against drafts is really the key.