Now is the time to start winterizing your home

Published on Wed, Sep 16, 2009 by Emily Resch Birch Bay Water & Sewer

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Whether you are fleeing from the cold winter weather or braving the formidable Northwest dreariness, it is wise to take the necessary precautions to winterize your home.  Thoughtful preparation can prevent freezing and/or possibly bursting pipes from occurring at your home during the cold winter months.  Frozen water pipes can stop water service and be expensive to repair or replace. Homeowners in Blaine and Birch Bay are responsible for any damage that occurs to their water service line or individual home. Here are a couple of steps that you can take to avoid problems. 

The first step to winterizing your home is to know the location of your shut-off valve.  Homeowners are required to have a shut-off valve installed on their side of the water meter as per city and district codes. If you do not already have a shut-off valve installed, your first step should be to have one installed. 

The shut-off valve allows homeowners to turn off the water in their home until a leaky pipe is fixed minimizing damage.  This is particularly important if you are leaving for the winter.  Make sure to have the water shutoff and your system drained.  Be sure to disconnect and drain garden hoses and in-ground irrigation systems, too. 

The second step is insulation.  Insulate any pipes or faucets that are located outside or that are located in unheated areas like attics, garages and crawl spaces with heat tape or molded pipe sleeve.  Heat tape is inexpensive and a great way to keep your pipes from freezing. Plumbing heat tape looks like tape, but has an electrical wire that runs through it and gets plugged into a normal power outlet.  It is ideal for areas that get extremely cold and where normal pipe insulation is not enough.  Heat tape and pipe insulation are inexpensive and can be found at your local hardware store. 

If your pipes do freeze, never try to thaw a frozen pipe with a torch or open flame because of the fire hazard it creates.  Instead place a warm towel or rag around the pipe or try a hair dryer with a low setting to thaw out the frozen pipe. 

In the worst case scenario if your pipes break, shut off your water and water heater. 

If you are unable to locate the shut off valve to stop the water, call either the city or district for support.