Tips on protecting your pipes in the cold

Professional plumber advises on how to protect your pipes from the cold.

ALEXANDRIA, VA (WUSA9) - Plumbers were running around all day on Wednesday trying to service pipe busts in these frigid temps, and yet they were still happening.

In fact, a WUSA9 Photographer, had to run home during his shift. His house looked like a waterfall on the side due to a pipe bursting in his bathroom.

WUSA9 went to Alexandria, Va. on Wednesday to talk with a Michael and Son Services Plumbing Technician on how to protect the pipes. 

Matt Smyer opened the door and went inside. He snuck on blue booties over his shoes as he made his way to the basement.

Smyer was inspecting a pipe that was not letting out water. Sure enough, it was frozen.

Smyer used a blow torch to quickly heat up the outside valve and defrost the ice clog. Behind the scenes, he turned off a valve inside the house, went outside, unscrewed the outside picket and checked for any rubber washers.

“I can actually see the ice here,” Smyer said peeking into the outside faucet with a flashlight.

“Really winterizing with the outside faucets, that’s the biggest thing that’s going to freeze,” said Smyer on how to protect your home’s pipes.

First, he says to, “Take your hose off our outside faucet. Find your inside shutoff. Every outside faucet’s going to have one…turn it off. Go back outside and open the outside faucet so you’re turning that on.”

He said to look for a bleeder valve, a little cap that you unscrew and that releases the pressure. Water may come out on either end.

Once it’s properly drained, Smyer says, “from the inside shut off to the outside shut off will be completely dry. There will be no water in there and there’s no way for it to freeze.”

What else can you do?

“Insulation. And, I would recommend fiberglass insulation with a high IR rating. The pipe insulation doesn't work as well,” said Smyer who compared pool noodles to the pipe insulation.

Got a draft in your home? Open the cabinets.

“It’s definitely a good idea to open these up put a space heater here,” the plumber said.

The “drip” is another method some have suggested, but Smyer said if your sink is prone to freezing, that won’t cut it.

“That’s not enough water to actually keep it from freezing,” he said. “I would recommend leaving it at a steady stream.”

However, Smyer said one of the best ways to protect your pipes is to seal-up your home.  

“Heat in your house is really going to be key when you’re trying not to freeze pipes,” he also said.

© 2018 WUSA-TV


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