If you’re going to be traveling, vacationing, or spending time with distant family during the cold winter months and you want to safeguard against frozen pipes while you’re away, consider these precautions:
Don’t turn your heat down so low that you risk burst water pipes from an overnight freeze. You certainly don’t need to leave all thermostat settings at ‘normal’ if no one will be home for a week or more, but any savings on the heating bill will be completely NULL if you suffer water damage from burst plumbing.
It’s also not recommended that you leave all faucets dripping during a cold snap if no one is going to be at home checking that the water is draining properly and that the “drips” don’t turn into constant, stronger flows.
If you’ll be away from your home for an extended period, and you know that your area is subject to severely low temperatures ( in the teens ) you might consider draining the water from your whole system. To do this, shut off the Main Valve where the water supply first enters your pipes, ( usually in your basement) and then open up the hot and cold taps of all faucets and let them run until the water stops.
This simple step prevents burst pipes by replacing most of the water in your system with air and eliminating the chance for a build-up of pressure even if any remaining water freezes. (Pipes don’t usually break as a direct result of expanding water against the inner walls, but more often from a pressure build-up within the whole system beyond the point where the water freezes.)
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When you return, slowly re-open the main valve. There may be sputtering and “coughing” from your faucets as the air is forced out, but normal water flow will return shortly.