Winterizing Tips: 6 Ways to Help Your Customers Prevent Frozen Pipes
A frozen, burst pipe can quickly turn holiday cheer into a season of hardship. Not only can water from leaking pipes damage floors, walls and other areas of the property, but it’s also the perfect habitat for mold growth and structural damage.
While frozen pipes are common in winter, there are ways you can help your customers prepare for freezing temperatures. Here are six things for you and your customers to consider to prevent pipes from freezing.
3 Ways You Can Protect Your Customers’ Pipes From Freezing
1. Install Winter Plumbing Products
Protect your customer’s plumbing system by installing solutions that are freeze-resistant or that make winterizing plumbing easier.
Frost-free sillcocks. These are designed with the water shut-off valve located at the inlet of the sillcock for freeze resistance, allowing for water flow regulation. Frost-free sillcocks should be installed with a downward pitch so that water can drain freely and not freeze inside the faucet or hose.
Drain/vent. Fittings and ball valves with a drain/vent make winterizing more convenient by reducing the steps required to drain the line. They also allow customers to do so from a single location each year.
Read more: Elbow with Drain/Vent: What You Need to Know
PEX pipe. Transitioning to PEX pipe during repipes, repairs and remodels can help safeguard your customers’ plumbing system in the future. PEX is more flexible and can expand and contract more easily than rigid pipes like copper, PVC, and CPVC, which means it's less likely to burst during a freeze.
Read more: How PEX Pipe Performs in the Winter
2. Recommend a Water Monitor for Leak Detection
Depending on where a burst pipe is located, the customer may not notice it until it’s flooded their basement or crawl space. A water monitor helps them detect pipe leaks, which can prevent severe property damage. Most monitors have an app that will send a notification to the homeowner’s phone if it detects a leak, allowing them to shut off the water remotely. It may also monitor pipe temperatures and notify users if there is a chance their pipes will freeze, giving them the opportunity to take preventive measures.
This technology can help customers limit the damage to their home and personal belongings while waiting for you to come investigate the leak. If you know your customer has a water monitor, consider giving them a hang tag or sticker with your company’s contact information that they can place on the device. That way, if there’s a plumbing issue, they know to call you.
3. Insulate Pipe and Water Heaters
Along with outdoor plumbing, pipes in areas where there is little or no heating — crawl spaces, attics, garages, etc. — should also be insulated. This adds a layer of protection from cold and freezing temperatures. The best pipe insulation materials to prevent freezing include fiberglass, rubber and foam.
It’s also important to insulate water heaters so customers don’t have to wait longer for hot water in the winter or pay more expensive energy bills. Neoprene foam is a common material for insulating electric water heaters, and fiberglass wrap secured by aluminum foil tape or wire is common for gas.
No one wants cold water in the wintertime, so it’s important to perform preventative maintenance on water heaters regularly. Encourage your customers to schedule a yearly water heater checkup. In doing so, you can not only prepare their water heaters by insulating them, but you can also check for heat-seeping sediment buildup, excess tank pressure and faulty parts that prevent their water heater from functioning properly.
Read More: 6 Winter Water Heater Problems
3 Plumbing Recommendations to Give Your Customers This Winter
1. Shut Off Water Supply to Outdoor Hose Bibbs
The best way to protect plumbing during the winter is to shut off the water supply to outdoor hose bibbs and store hoses in a warm place. Here are a few steps to recommend that your customers take to protect outdoor plumbing and prevent frozen pipes.
Turn the hose bibb water supply off from inside the house.
Open the hose bibb and shut-off valve and let the water drain from the pipe. If water isn’t drained completely, there is a chance it can still freeze, causing pipe damage.
Use hose bibb covers to protect the spigot.
Also be sure to remind customers to turn off the main water line and allow pipes to drain, even indoors, before leaving town or going on vacation.
2. Adjust the Thermostat
Pipes can freeze if indoor temperatures drop too low for a long time. Remind customers to keep their thermostats at a consistent temperature throughout the day and night, and if they’re going on vacation, they should set their heat to at least 55°F.
3. Keep a Dripping Faucet
Another way to help is to drip water from faucets with pipes along exterior walls to keep pipes from freezing overnight. Advise your customers to do so when the temperature is expected to be 28°F or below. Letting the water drip relieves pressure in the plumbing system and prevents blockages from ice. Though customers may see a slightly higher water bill, it’s far more preferable than the cost of home repairs caused by pipe bursts.
When Pipes Burst, Think SharkBite First
Unfortunately, pipe freezes still occur, despite our best efforts. SharkBite push-to-connect slip repair couplings, tees, adapters and ball valves allow you to make quick emergency pipe repairs to cracked copper or CPVC pipe and help to prevent future freezing. Remove up to 2 in. of damaged pipe and repair with a single fitting. No additional pipe or tools are required.
Watch here: How To: Repair Leaking Pipes With SharkBite