Save Your Plumbing Pipes from a Hard Freeze in a Blackout

The powers out again from the cold weather. If it’s cold enough to freeze and it might be off for more than 30 hours, you may need to drain the water lines in your home to prevent bursting pipes. How can you do this without calling the plumber who charges $75 just to come out to your home? You can do it yourself with these simple steps.

Turn off the main valve to your home first. It normally is located near the well head or pump. If you have a city water line then it is located at the water meter near the street.

You also need to shut off the valve to your water heater. If your water heater is gas, you need to shut off the gas valve to the heater. The gas cock as it is called is located on top of your heater. If you’re not sure, call the gas company. For electric heaters turn off the breaker in the panel box. By assuring that the water heater is turned off will save your element from burning up.

If your heating system in your home utilizes hot water like a boiler, then you need to shut off the water inlet valve. This is located at the base of most boilers. It will be on the pipe leading into the boiler tank. After this is done, flush all the toilets in your home and turn on all the faucets. Open all the valves on the radiators in your home and air valves. Use a cup to catch all the water that comes out. After that the water in the boiler should be cool but check the temperature gauge first. Attach a hose to the drain on the lower part of the boiler and let it flow out to a drain that is lower than the boiler. Do the same to the brainsick on the water heater. Turn on the hose and allow all the water to drain out. Be careful not to burn yourself from the water. Allow enough time to let the water cool.

Empty all the toilet tanks by siphoning with a hose and bucket. You can also use a small cup to help empty the tanks. After all the tanks on the toilets are drained add a propylene glycol anti-freeze into the toilets, sinks, tubs, dishwasher, and washing machine. You should buy an anti-freeze from your local plumbing supply company. Do not use anti-freeze you put into a car. When the power is later restored, flush all systems well and run the dishwasher several times to remove all traces of the anti-freeze before place any dishes inside.

With a little luck your pipes should be protected during a hard freeze when the power is out for more than 30 hours. If you feel like it may not be done thoroughly, you’re probably right. A plumber has special air lines that will remove all the water form your lines. Call one if you can, but in an emergency, these simple instructions can help to save a big problem from occurring in the future.

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