In the desert and in the mountains, freezing pipes can cause a winter crisis. In a big freeze some years ago in Maricopa County, so many vacuum breakers on water systems cracked that there weren’t enough replacement parts or valves in Arizona to solve the problem quickly. Plumbing supply houses were delivering components via overnight air freight for days. Some people went without running water for a while.
With just 10 minutes worth of work or so, all this could had been avoided. Here is what you need to do:
As the main water line enters your home, it generally comes vertically out of the ground, tees out from the wall to a hose bibb and into the home, feeding your fresh water supply lines. If you have a lawn sprinkler system, an additional valve runs a second vertical line back into the ground to service the valve box where your sprinkler valves are located. That vacuum breaker valve is the number one weak link.
Pipe insulation and freeze protection should be installed for hose bibbs and vacuum breakers that are exposed at your home's exterior. Pipe insulation and freeze protection products are typically available at hardware stores and may also be found online.
If nothing else, simply wrap the pipes sticking out of the ground as well as the vacuum breaker valve in a couple of layers of towels and secure with duct tape.
Do not hesitate to open the irrigation system valve box cover and throw loose towels over the sprinkler valves as well. Just fill the box with old rags and replace the cover.
If you own an evaporative cooler drain it before the first freeze too. If you haven’t, you probably will have to buy a new one before the warm weather arrives.
If you are going to slightly crack open a couple of faucets or hose bibbs, do it at the point farthest from where the water enters your home. That way, moving water will flow throughout the entire system. This is the least preferable method of freeze protection and the least reliable, but if it’s all you can do, it’s usually better than nothing.
Also be sure in both Northern Arizona and Phoenix to keep your thermostat a little higher for extra protection.
When many homeowners leave on winter trips, they also shut off the water and thoroughly drain water out of pipes. Start by finding the lowest faucet in your system, usually on the exterior, and opening it up. Then go back through your house, castle or cabin and open every sink, shower or bath faucet and flush every toilet to remove remaining water. You also have to turn off the electricity or the pilot light on the water heater and drain the water heater into a floor drain or to the exterior. Disconnect garden hoses and empty pipes leading to outside faucets.
Stampede Plumbing Blog Article
How To Handle Freezing Pipes
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December's Home Maintenance Calendar: #PipeFreezes
Rosie On The House | Prevent Frozen Pipes
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