In the unfortunate event of losing electric power for days during freezing
weather, what is the best way to prevent water pipes from freezing?
Leave each faucet dripping, or turn off water main?
I'm trying to compile a disaster todo list.
BTW, normally pipes inside houses are kept warm by central heating. But what
keeps the pipes under the streets from freezing?
If you're there to keep an eye on things, leave the faucets on a slow drip.
If you're gone, turn them on full blast and then shut off the main valve to
the house. Last, flush all toilets.
The underground pipes don't freeze because (hopefully), they're installed
below the frost line - the depth at which the ground freezes in your area.
How is turning on the faucets full blast and then shutting of the main
valve going to prevent his pipes from freezing and bursting? The
solution if the place is going to be left unattended and possibly
without power, is to drain the water system and put antifreeze in the
And how does turning on the water full blast and then shutting of the
main valve leave little residual water in the pipes? The pipes are
going to still be just about full of water and will certainly freeze
and burst. To prevent freezing, they need to be DRAINED.
Well, you got very lucky. How cold did it actually get in the house?
If all you do is open all the faucets, get the water running, and turn
off the main valve, the pipes will still be full of water. How can
you thiink water will be out of the pipes from just doing that?
The system needs to be drained by turning off the water, opening all
the faucets, then opening a drain valve somewhere at the lowest point
in the sytem. The toilets then need to be flushed and some antifreexe
poured in them, plus all the drains, like bathtub, sinks, etc.
Temp: Hovered below 20 degrees for 4 days in both cases.
Lowest point: Correct. But, some residue isn't going to bust the pipes. Have
you ever frozen soup in glass jars? The method involves leaving an inch of
space at the top, and NOT tightening the lids until after the freezing is
complete. In pipes, as long as the valves are open and there's some room for
expansion, you're not likely to have problems. Obviously, this will depend
to an extent on whether or not the house has any strange bends in the pipe
installation (mine didn't).
20 degrees inside the house or outside? If it's 20 outside, no big
surprise the pipes didn't freeze. If it's 20 inside, I would be very
suprised if they didn't freeze and burst. A 20 or 30 foot section of
pipe isn;t a wide mouth jar. And if it's just a matter of leaving a
faucet open for expansion, what does "strange bends" have to do with it?
Here's some references about how to winterize a home that will be
The water that is in your northern home's water lines needs to be
drained. Water that freezes in supply lines or traps in drainage lines
can cause them to crack. Go to the lowest fixture in the house that has
hot and cold water. Open those valves. Go to every plumbing fixture in
the home and open all valves and flush all toilets. This will allow
gravity to pull the water down through the system. Closed valves create
vacuums that prevent water from draining.
Drain the water heater and all toilets, toilet tanks, and pipes, making
sure there is no water left standing in low-lying loops of pipe. Put
non-toxic antifreeze (used in boats and RVs) in the toilet bowls (a
third to a half gallon each will do) to keep the liquid sealed between
the sewer or septic system and the air in the house. Same for the P
traps in the sinks, and drains, which will require only two cups or so
of antifreeze. Run the dishwasher dry and put a third gallon of
antifreeze in it, then run it for part of a cycle to circulate the
antifreeze through the pump. I put a bit more in the dishwasher for
good measure, and use the
How to Winterize a Vacation Home
Shut off water systems by turning off the pump or shutting the valve if
on city water. Drain the pressure tank.
Open all faucets.
Break a union close to the valve so water will drain out clear to the
Drain pump and run a second or two to be sure all water is out of lines
from the pump.
Flush toilets and dip all water out of the flush tank.
Be sure to drain flexible spray hoses in showers and sinks.
Drain water softeners so water will drain back from soft water pipes
and controls. Brine tank will probably not freeze.
Drain water heaters.
I'd be happy to look at any credible references that support your
position that all you have to do is open faucets and shut off the main
Next time I'm without heat for a few days, you can stop by and watch the
pipes not burst.
The antifreeze is a good idea, but I just didn't do it.
As far as references, what did you do before there was an internet? Do you
ever believe peoples' experiences if you don't have a web link?
Being without heat for a few days and having no pipes freeze doesn't
prove anything. It can take a couple of days for a house to lose heat
to begin with. That's very different from a house that's without heat
for a week when it's 15 degrees outside.
Just as I thought, no references, just bad advice. It's like saying,
I leave my car at the convenience store, with the engine running, and
it's never been stolen, so that's good practice.
On 4 Dec 2006 08:00:55 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
This is a little strange, or poorly put. You should go to the lowest
fixture that has hot water, and the lowest that has cold water.
In my cases and most cases that is the same fixture (if wwe don't
count toilets) but if it is isn't, do it my way.
On 4 Dec 2006 07:24:38 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
I have 3 bathroom sinks, one kitchen sink, one laundry sink.
One shower, one bathtub, 3 toilets.
What about the washing machine?
Since the water is only a foot above the fllor and the outlet is over
the lip of the sink, there is what amounts to a trap in the washing
What does one do to keep the washing machine from damage?
On 4 Dec 2006 07:24:38 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
And I forgot about the dishwasher. That has what amounts to a trap
also. Antifreeze into the dishwasher drain??
The best mixture is 50/50. More antifreeze than that and the freezing
temp starts to rise again. No need to mix it with the water in the
pipe. It will mix itself, by diffusion or something.
Depending on the layout of the house, his method could work fairly well.
If you turn off the water with all the faucets open, the upstairs
plumbing will drain through the downstairs faucets. If you then flush
all the toilets, they're usually the lowest fixture in each bathroom, so
they'll drain much of the remaining water in the system. Especially if
you flush each toilet again to make sure there's no water left in the
But I'd still worry in a hard freeze, this method doesn't clear the
water out of the toilet traps or other drain traps, it doesn't drain the
water heater, and it doesn't drain all the pipes in the walls. It
really is best to drain the whole system from a low-point drain valve if
you have one.
email@example.com is Joshua Putnam
When we lost power for a long time, I was told to open cabinet doors.
The house heat would transfer to the pipes easier, and with proper
insulation, water wouldn't freeze for a while. Now this is advice I
tom @ www.NoCostAds.com
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