Prepare irrigation system for winter

(NewsUSA) - Upcoming winter weather brings charms with sledding, skating and snowmen, but when icy weather means plumbing problems, homeowners find themselves longing for spring.

When temperatures suddenly drop, water in pipes can freeze. Water expands as it freezes, causing the pipe to rupture. When the pipes thaw, homeowners might find a nasty surprise, like a flooded basement.

To avoid water damage from frozen pipes, homeowners should take the following steps:

- Insulate pipes. Insulating pipes can mean immediate energy returns because insulation both keeps hot water pipes warm and protects cold water pipes from freezing. Homeowners with existing insulation should check it before cold weather hits -- if either the insulation or its tape looks cracked or crumbles to the touch, homeowners should consider replacement. If the pipes have either wire or tape heaters, homeowners should contact the pipe heater's manufacturer before attempting to insulate pipes.

- Prepare for winter weather. Homeowners will not be watering plants mid-winter, so they should drain and store garden hoses and sprinklers before the first freeze. People planning to leave their homes should both turn off their water and keep their thermostat above freezing. Even well-insulated homes quickly reach freezing temperatures if left unheated.

- Consider anti-leak technologies. Companies are developing new technologies that help prevent water damage. When the flow through the system's sensor exceeds a preset limit, the system shuts off the water and sounds an alarm at the keypad. If connected to your security system, it will notify the monitoring service. Shutting off the water prevents flooding, saving you from potential costly repairs. Many insurers will offer discounts to homeowners who use anti-leak systems.

If a pipe is already frozen, homeowners should turn off the water, slowly thaw the pipe, then call a plumber to make needed repairs.


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