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Protecting Your Pipes in Chicago, IL

After winter sets in is not the time to think about your pipes. Proper planning can prevent the freezing of your water lines and pipes by following these recommendations: Start from the outside. Drain all Garden Hoses and wrap outside pipes. Most of the time an outside faucet that spurs off you house will have a cut off inside or at the base. It is advisable to shut this off and leave the outside faucet on to be sure it is drained as well.

The reason it is important to drain both is because water left inside your hoses may expand upon freeing causing them to stress or rupture. Exterior pipes and faucets that are not properly drained can crack or break if water freezes inside them. You should also empty swimming pools to avoid damage to drains and sidewalls. Make sure all sprinkler lines are cleared and prepped according to manufacturer’s specs, and stroe sprayer heads and sprinkler nozzles accordingly.

NOTE: do not use antifreeze in these lines unless it is specifically stated by the manufacturer. Antifreeze is a potentially dangerous substance that can harm the earth and the creature that inhabit it if used improperly. Exam the rest of your outer home and yard to look for any water sources you may have forgotten like fountains or man-made ponds that have the potential to freeze and damage your lines. Often water pipes that are hidden in crawlspaces or under porches get forgotten.

If you have outside pipes that you can’t really drain and shut off, you can wrap. There are many fine products on the market that provide a “sleeve” of insulating material to wrap these pipes in. If you cannot find or afford pipe insulation, tape about ¼ ” around the pipe. It is a viable alternative. It is important to protect both hot and cold water pipes during freezing weather. If you can keep a shed or garage closed or wrap the underpinning of your home or porch to keep warm air around the pipes do so.

Inside your home you should check pipes that sit against outside walls. Again wrapping them or draining them if possible is a good plan. If the pipes are under cabinetry, leave those doors open to allow warm air in. If you are unable to cut off your water, Let your faucets drip especially through the night or when you are gone and they are not likely to be turned on.

Unfortunately a burst pipe is not usually obvious until it thaws, or a faucet is turned back on. If you turn on your water after a thaw, and notice really low water pressure, you may have a burst pipe. Immediately shut off the water and check for water damage or standing water.

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