How To Drain Your Pipes for the Winter

November 16, 2023
Frozen pipes in South Charleston, WV

Whether you’re going on vacation for the winter or you need to winterize a summer home, draining your pipes is crucial if you don’t want them to freeze. West Virginia doesn’t get as cold as other parts of the country, but temperatures still drop below freezing, which is enough to do some serious damage to your plumbing.

If you want to make sure that you won’t have to contend with a major plumbing repair bill or fix any water damage in your home, here’s what you should do before it gets too cold.

1. Shut Off Your Main Water Valve

The first step in draining your pipes for the winter is to shut off the water in your house. You should know where your main water shutoff valve is already in case of an emergency. If you don’t, take the time to find it and make sure that you can reach it easily.

2. Turn on All of Your Faucets

Even though you’ve already shut off the water in your house, there will still be water in your pipes that can freeze. To drain all of the water, unlock all of your faucets and turn them on. Start from the lowest floor in your home – which is likely your basement or crawl space – and work your way through your home. Don’t forget the outside of your house; outdoor faucets are directly exposed to the cold and are more prone to freezing.

3. Flush Your Toilets

The water in your pipes will drain from your faucets after you unlock them and turn them on, but you’ll still have water in your toilets. This water can freeze and damage your toilets just like any of your pipes, so flush them to drain them of water. You’ll still have water in the “U” part of the toilet bowl, but that is unlikely to freeze.

4. Empty the Water Lines of Your Appliances

Appliances such as your dishwasher and your washing machine have their own water lines that need to be drained. After you’ve turned off the water in your house, run your appliances on the hot and cold water settings until no water comes out. This shouldn’t take that long if you’ve shut off the main water line.

5. Empty Your Water Heater Tank

If you have a water heater with a tank, it might still have water left after you’ve unlocked your faucets and run your appliances. This will need to be drained, so check the owner’s manual to learn how to do that. If you can’t figure out how to do that or you don’t feel comfortable doing so, contact Mullen Plumbing, Heating and Cooling for advice. We will be glad to assist you.

6. Put Compressed Air Through Your Pipes

If you want to make absolutely sure that your pipes are completely drained, feed about 70 PSI of compressed air through your hose connector or basement faucet to force any remaining water out. You can rent an air compressor from most hardware stores, so check some stores near you if you need one. Otherwise, Mullen Plumbing, Heating and Cooling can help you completely drain your pipes if you still think you need assistance.

Other Ways to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

Draining your pipes is a great way to keep them from freezing if you’re not going to be around for the winter. However, if you’re not going anywhere and need to keep your plumbing on, there are other things that you can do to keep your pipes from freezing. The first thing is to insulate any exposed pipes that are in your basement, garage, or crawlspace. All it takes is to wrap them in pipe insulation that you can purchase from most hardware stores.

The second is to open your faucets to a trickle at night. This keeps just enough water moving through your pipes to keep them from freezing but not so much that it will have a big impact on your monthly water bill. Finally, open the cabinets underneath your kitchen and bathroom sinks. This exposes the pipes underneath your sinks to the warm air that is circulating throughout your house and prevents them from freezing.

Contact Mullen Plumbing, Heating and Cooling for Assistance

If you have any questions about draining your pipes or otherwise preventing them from freezing, Mullen Plumbing, Heating and Cooling will be glad to assist you. We also offer plumbing repairs, installations, and HVAC services to homeowners. For more information about our plumbing services or if you have questions about winterizing your pipes, contact Mullen Plumbing, Heating and Cooling in South Charleston, WV today.

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