March 1, 2024
By Mark Paup

Preparing Your Plumbing for Spring Thaw

Homeowners must consider preparing their plumbing systems as the cold winter months transition to warmer spring weather. The freeze and thaw cycles standard in spring can wreak havoc on pipes, leading to significant leaks or flooding if you’re not careful. At Golden Rule, we want to ensure our customers are prepared for whatever changes spring might bring. With our years of experience providing top-notch plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical services, we’ve seen our share of plumbing emergencies caused by spring thaw. We’re ready to help homeowners like you avoid disaster.

Inspect Exposed Pipes and Fittings

When prepping for spring, thoroughly check over any exposed pipes inside and outside your home. Look for small cracks, leaks, or damage that may have occurred over the winter from expanding and contracting ice. Check pipes running along exterior walls or in unheated spots like basements and crawlspaces, especially since those areas are prone to freezing. Not catching issues early before spring thawing can turn little drips into gushing messes. If the worst does happen, we’re here with 24/7 emergency plumbing repair services.

Insulate Vulnerable Pipes

Insulating at-risk pipes is a crucial preparatory step. Problematic sections are those in unheated garages, attics, crawlspaces, and other areas open to freezing air. Proper insulation creates a barrier against the freeze-thaw cycles in early spring that can damage pipes. Fiberglass sleeves or foam covers are perfect for wrapping pipes and are way more effective than slapping on some heat tape. Figure out which pipes in your plumbing system are most vulnerable, and then get them insulated well before spring thawing causes ruptures.

Seal Openings Where Cold Air Gets In

An important preventive measure is sealing openings, gaps, or penetrations that allow cold air inside to freeze pipes. Even tiny gaps around vents, electrical conduits, crawlspace entrances, or other spots can funnel in freezing air. Search the interior and exterior of your house carefully and plug these cold air access points with spray foam, caulk, or insulation. Building an airtight barrier keeps out drafts and protects your plumbing from bursting and leaks when thawed. Check dryer vents, pipe chases, attic hatches, and other areas where cold winds might sneak through.

Disconnect and Drain Exterior Hoses After Use

Spring weather can give you whiplash. One day, you’re dragging out the hoses, and the next, the weatherman is predicting freezing temperatures. Remember to completely disconnect any garden or other hoses attached to exterior hose bibs or spigots after use during this unpredictable time of year. Let them drain fully to remove standing water left inside that could freeze and crack the hose. Replacing aged or damaged hose bibs can provide extra protection against spring leaks. Our experienced plumbers work with sprinkler systems, too.

Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Clogged gutters are a problem because they can lead to ice dams forming. This can cause more damage, which allows water to seep into exterior walls and cause interior pipe bursts. Throughout the springtime, be sure to keep gutters clear of leaves, debris, and buildup. Check that downspouts are working right to divert water away from your home’s foundation. Address any issues with gutters and downspouts to maintain proper drainage and runoff to protect vulnerable plumbing from frozen water damage.

Check Sump Pumps

Don’t ignore sump pumps, vital for keeping basements dry all year. Remove debris around the pump and discharge line, like leaves or sticks. Pour water into the sump pit to confirm the pump turns on and works properly to pump water out. A failed sump pump when spring thawing happens could mean a flooded basement and water-damaged pipes. Make any necessary repairs to ensure sump pumps are clear and operational before melting snow and spring rains strain the system.

Consider Installing Freeze Protection

Adding heat tape or heat cables for extra protection in regions with frequent pipe freezing is never too late. When applied right on unheated pipes, they maintain a minimum temperature that keeps water safely above freezing. Be sure any existing heat tape is plugged in and tested well before freezing temperatures arrive. Never use open-flame propane heaters, which can create a fire hazard around pipes.

You can install foam pipe insulation wraps for outdoor hose bibs and fixtures. Installing wraps on outdoor spigots helps prevent cracked bibs, ruptured lines, and water damage indoors from failing pipes or fixtures.

Know How to Shut Off the Water

Knowing how to shut off your main water supply quickly is critical to burst pipe preparation. Locate your home’s shutoff valve and test it to ensure proper operation before winter starts. This lets you turn off the water immediately if a pipe springs a leak, limiting water damage. Nothing is worse than a frantic search for the shutoff when your basement floods. Mark its location, and be sure another family member can shut it off if you’re not home.

Allow Faucets to Drip During Freezes

Even during spring, when frigid temperatures are forecast, let indoor and outdoor faucets slowly drip overnight during the freeze. This relieves built-up pressure from expanding frozen water that can split pipes. The steady trickle bleeds off excess water while maintaining flow to prevent freezing. Check forecasts regularly and start dripping before an extreme freeze settles in. Choose the coldest overnight hours, like midnight to 5 a.m., when temperatures dip the lowest.

Outdoor hose bibs are very susceptible to freezing damage. Letting interior and exterior faucets drip anytime prolonged subfreezing temperatures are called for can help. Turn faucets off again once the cold snap passes to avoid wasting water.

Schedule an Appointment With Golden Rule

As your trusted local plumbing, HVAC, and electrical service provider, Golden Rule is here to assist homeowners in preparing for springtime thawing to prevent pipe damage. For over 25 years, we’ve provided reliable, high-quality work. Our seasoned technicians are available 24/7 to handle any emergency plumbing repair quickly and thoroughly. We offer comprehensive services, including pipe inspections, insulation installation, leak repair, and more.

As a family-owned company, we genuinely care about our community. We aim to simplify homeowners’ lives by meeting their plumbing, heating, cooling, and electrical needs. We take pride in our commitment to honesty, transparency, and delivering solutions at a fair price. Our team has the knowledge and skills to customize solutions to your unique home layout and problem areas. We’ll provide an honest assessment and quote upfront so there are no surprises.

Get ahead of the spring thaw now by scheduling a plumbing maintenance. We can identify vulnerable areas prone to freezing and recommend preventative measures to avoid extensive water damage. Rely on our years of regional experience to keep your home’s pipes safe this spring, and turn to us for any pipe repair solutions. Contact Golden Rule today to schedule an appointment.

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