Winter temperatures in Wausau, WI, drop below freezing and stay there for several weeks. When these frigid temperatures arrive, you must protect your home’s pipes from freezing. This is especially true if you are a snowbird and won’t regularly use the plumbing in your home.

Whether you will be in your home or away during the winter, we have collected some of the best practices to winterize your home and prevent your pipes from freezing.

Winterize Your Pipes by Insulating Them

One of the first steps plumbing professionals take to help protect your pipes during the winter is to insulate them. Uninsulated pipes exposed to Wausau’s freezing winter temperatures are at risk of freezing.

When water freezes inside your pipes, it prevents water flow and can cause your pipes to crack and burst open in a worst-case scenario. If this happens, you will have to deal with serious plumbing repairs, water damage, and mildew, not to mention frustration from not having easy access to fresh water. Our team typically recommends using protective foam insulation. It is an inexpensive option, and we can complete the entire project in less than one day.

If you are having new construction done, you should plan for pipes to be protected from extreme temperatures. Our licensed plumbers can perform an inspection if you have an older home and are still determining whether your pipes are insulated. With a thorough inspection, you can have peace of mind from knowing that your plumbing system is up to functioning well during the winter.

Another option that can be used is heat tape. Knowledgeable professionals should install heat tape to provide the best protection for your plumbing system while preventing any possible fire hazards.

Make Sure Exterior Hoses Are Disconnected

In late fall and throughout the winter, you don’t need to water your lawn or plants. We recommend having the exterior hoses disconnected from their spigots. When doing this, ensure all excess water is removed from them, and then store your hoses in your garage or shed.

The problem with leaving your hose connected during the winter is that it could freeze and crack if there is water inside. Then, you will have to replace them in the spring. The same principle is true for sprinkler systems. Make sure that your system is completely shut off and drained during the winter.

Also, you shouldn’t overlook hose bibs. Hose bibs are often left unattended, and homeowners get a nasty surprise when they burst in the middle of the night. It is recommended that you drain hose bibs and insulate them with covers. Deactivate the bib at its shut-off valve.

Disconnect the Main Water Valve If You Will Be Away

If you are escaping Wausau’s cold weather during the winter and heading to sunny Arizona or Florida, we recommend you have the main water valve disconnected while you are away. That way, if you accidentally leave a faucet open or your toilet leaks, you won’t be running water for months. If there are any small leaks, you don’t have to worry about the water freezing inside your pipes because it has been disconnected.

Most contractors install the main water valve on the exterior of your home around its perimeter. In some houses, you will find it in a crawlspace or the basement, depending on what year the house was built.

The majority of water valves have a white or red lever. It could also be a round knob that you need to turn clockwise to shut off. If your home uses well water, disconnect the well pump. Many homeowners benefit from having professional plumbers give their piping system a once-over before they go away for a few months. This way, they have the peace of mind from knowing that their pipes are completely winterized, and there is no risk of them being damaged by winter’s cold.

Have the Excess Air Blown Out Of Your Pipes

This is a key and often overlooked part of winterizing your plumbing system. Once the main water supply has been disconnected, have a professional plumber use an air compressor to remove excess air from your pipes. You will know they will be completely dry during the winter while you are away.

If you will use your plumbing system during the winter, then this step is unnecessary. With regular everyday use, insulated pipes stay balanced during the winter. However, if they go unused for months on end, standing water can affect pressure changes in your pipes. When the temperature drops, pressure increases, putting strain on your pipes that can cause them to burst, shift, or break.

Additional Steps to Winterize Your Plumbing System

If you are gone for long periods during the day, it is a good idea to maintain a heating source inside your home to protect pipes from the cold. You may even want to leave a faucet dripping in frigid temperatures to allow water to move freely and continuously to prevent freezing.

During the fall, have the exterior of the property inspected. The inspection should focus on identifying visible cracks and ensuring they are sealed. Cold air can easily penetrate exterior cracks, which can freeze your pipes once inside. Typically, having cracks sealed with caulking or spray foam is enough to protect your home’s plumbing.

Additionally, ensure that crawlspaces have sufficient insulation. You may consider having vents that lead to the outside of the home blocked to prevent cold air penetration.

What If Your Pipes Burst?

Having your home winterized by plumbing professionals all but guarantees that your pipes will make it safely through the winter. But what if you forgot to get your pipes winterized and they burst?

Signs of a burst pipe include random pools of water, fluctuating water pressure, stains on the wall, discolored or smelly water, unusually high water bills, and the sound of water dripping behind walls and pipes. If your pipes burst, disconnect the main water supply. Then, call our plumbing professionals at Southport Home Services. Don’t try to tackle the problem yourself. Inadequate repairs could fail again, or work done by unlicensed workers will not be covered by liability insurance and could lead to additional damage. Working with our team of experienced plumbing technicians is the best way to ensure that damages are kept to a minimum if your pipes burst and that repairs are done right.

Plumbing and HVAC Service for the Wausau Area

At Southport Home Services, we are proud of our skilled plumbing and HVAC services. Our business has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, and we have won the 2022 Carrier President’s Award along with several other prestigious awards. Our goal is to exceed your expectations with the quality of our work and excellent customer service.

Our services include heating and cooling installation, repair, and maintenance. We install heat pumps and do boiler repairs and replacements. We offer indoor air quality control and install dehumidifiers and humidifiers. You can also count on us for drain cleaning, emergency plumbing services, gas line inspections, and bathroom remodels. Contact Southport Home Services today to learn more about our products and services.

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Thomas Suchla
Thomas Suchla


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