Frozen Brass Tap

How to Drain Pipes for Winter? A Beginner’s Guide

Water damage from leaks and frozen pipes that burst is among the most common types of homeowner insurance claims. To prevent these damages, homeowners should be on the lookout for leaks in their taps and plumbing.

However, freeze to your plumbing is often an overlooked cause when discussing water damage. If you are going on a winter vacation, or the weather forecast predicts a freezing period, your pipes are likely to freeze over if you don’t take precautions.

Frozen pipes lead to cracks and leaks. And that can be a financial and plumbing nightmare. One affordable way to prevent plumbing freeze from happening is to drain your pipes for winter.

How Does Ice Lead to Burst Pipes?

You may be wondering how ice in your plumbing and lines lead to burst pipes and leaks.

Usually, after you have used a hose or faucet, some of the water will remain in the pipes. The liquid leftover can freeze when temperatures drop.

When water freezes, it expands by about 9%. The expansion leads to pressure on the pipes. Within a short while, the lines either burst or crack and leak.

How to Drain Your Pipes

Use this beginner guide as a checklist for draining your lines. We recommend making a checklist of all your water fixtures, so you don’t omit any of them.

As you go through the steps outlined below, tick it off on your list. That way, you won’t have unpleasant surprises when winter comes calling.

You’ll need the following:

  1. Air compressor
  2. Anti-freeze solution
  3. Garden hose

Follow this step-by-step beginner guide on how to drain pipes before winter:

Step 1: Turn Off Your Water Supply

The first thing you need to do is to switch off the water supply valve. You will find this close to the water meter. If you can’t find it, speak to the water supply company.

The water supply can be challenging to shut off sometimes. Use a rag to turn it if that’s the case.

Next, turn off your water pump and heater to prevent the pump and heating element from running dry as that can damage these appliances.

Step 2: Drain the Pipes

Next, open all faucets and valves to drain the lines. Remember the checklist of water fixtures we asked you to create – now’s the time to use it.

Tick off each spigot and tap on your list as you open them. Allow each item to run till it stops dropping.

To drain the exterior pipes, attach a garden hose to an outdoor spigot and let it run. You should also flush all toilets continuously till no water flows into the toilet tank. Repeat this across all bathrooms in your home, including the basement.

*Tip: Some experts advise that you leave taps and spigots open if you won’t be around all winter. Closed faucets can lead to airlock vacuums that trap water inside the pipes.

Icicles Beginning To Melt

Step 3: Use Pressure to Force Out any Excess Water in the Pipes

Now, it’s time to use the air compressor to push out any excess water. Force short and long bursts of air at high pressure into the main drains. Repeat this in every bathroom.

Step 4: Drain Your Appliances

Next, you’ll need to drain every appliance connected to the water supply – dishwasher, washing machine, and hot water tank.

Switch on the dishwasher and let it run for a while to flush the drain pipes.

Repeat the same for the washing machine. With the washing machine, run both cold and hot water to flush out any detergent sediments. You can use the air compressor to force any leftover out of these appliances through the shut-off valve.

Unscrew the drain valve of the hot water tank and let it run till it’s empty. Some tanks might need a garden hose to drain the water effectively. Use the air compressor to flush the rubber diaphragm beside the tank.

Step 5: Apply Anti-Freeze

Ideally, your pipes should be completely dry at this point. But there is always a small chance that some water might remain in crevices and bow joints. To prevent any freezing and cracking to taps, pipes, and toilet bowls, add anti-freeze.

Pour small amounts of anti-freeze into your toilet bowls, bathtub, and sink drain. It will prevent any water caught in drain traps from freezing and bursting the pipes.

Conclusion

Following these five steps will proof your pipes and plumbing system from the dangers of cold weather. Once you are back from your winter vacation or once the big freeze has subsided, turn on the mains and run each fixture till your pipes are full.

If you aren’t sure how to go about this process, our team at All Dry USA is at your service. We offer drain pipe services backed by an iron-clad customer guarantee.

Contact All Dry USA today.

Ben Suiskind
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