The great state of Texas was shocked in early 2021 when a snow storm swept across its borders. Plummeting temperatures resulted in power outages, loss of running water, and massive plumbing damage. The top local plumbing outfits remained fully booked for months, making the prospect of getting swift service slim for many. With a persistent shortage of plumbers across the state, recovery efforts were severely delayed and many homeowners were forced to take action themselves. Experts believe despite proactive efforts made over the last year to strengthen Texas’ power grid, many Texas homes remain vulnerable should history repeat itself. At Radiant, we want to help the communities we serve to prepare for the worst. We asked our experts for their top tips for preventing major plumbing & HVAC damage in case of another snow storm.
KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER:
- DRIP IT
- INSULATE IT
- CHANGE YOUR AIR FILTER
- TANKLESS WATER HEATER OUTSIDE? RUN THE HOT AT A TRICKLE
Defrost Hose Bibs
Hose bibs are small attachments, usually on the outer wall of the home connected to faucets. Its exposure to the elements makes it especially susceptible to the effects of plummeting temperatures. First, inspect your hose bibs for signs of frost. If you do encounter frost, proceed to disconnect the hose and gently run water over the bib. This preventative action should be considered for any exposed plumbing fixture showing signs of frost. Homeowners are advised to pay special attention to the outer walls of their home that enjoys little sunlight and endures strong winds.
Plumbing pipes, especially those outside the home, are at risk of incurring damage when temperatures drop below zero. You can take action to protect your pipes through insulation. Your goal is to prevent trapped water from freezing, expanding, and ultimately damaging your plumbing pipes. Wrap the exterior of your pipes with foam (a pool noodle works) or R-11 fiberglass insulation. If the pipe is connected to a valve, do not wrap the valve itself as you will want to preserve access and allow draining as necessary. Allow plumbing expert and Radiant team member, JR, to walk you through the DIY insulation process.
Let It Drip
When Central Texas starts experiencing extreme weather conditions, it’s time to start running your faucets. Twist the handles and allow your faucets to drip intermittently. This simple yet effective measure can prevent water from getting trapped in your plumbing fixtures and freezing. To ensure that none of that precious H2O goes to waste, place buckets under your dripping faucets to collect it for future use.
A Note on Outdoor Tankless Water Heaters – You’ll need to run a very slow trickle anytime we are below freezing. This is the surest way to protect your tankless. Tankless Water Heaters are very susceptible to freezing if you are not trickling water on the hot side. Most tankless units need half a gallon of flow or more to fire up, so running water on the hot side tap at a flow of less than half a gallon a minute will keep water flowing through your tankless and have less of a chance of freezing up. Additionally, if in the event of a power loss and you did not run water on the hot side prior to the freeze, you may have to drain the water from the tankless unit if it’s not already frozen. There are ports on the unit to turn incoming water off and ports to open to drain the water which you will need a bucket to catch the water. Ultimately, you will be happy if your tankless is 100% operational when you wake up in the morning.
Replace Your Air Filter
Perhaps the most straightforward of our suggestions is to simply replace your air filter. Your HVAC system could struggle to keep up as temperatures drop and a brand new filter can greatly impact its performance. Your current filter is likely littered with cedar pollen, giving you all the more reason to make the switch. In general, 1” thick filter grills should be replaced every month. Whereas the 4-5” media filters can be replaced every 6 months. If your air filter has been getting a little too comfortable in your attic, it’s time to make a switch.
If You Leave Town, Shut Your Water Off
When temperatures start to plummet many Austin homeowners seek to avoid the area altogether. A last minute flight to a sunny destination could spare you a lot of frustration as a snow storm begins to roll through the city. If you do skip town, be sure to shut off your home’s water supply before you do. You never know when a plumbing failure could occur. The added pressure applied by freezing temperatures could just send your home’s plumbing system over the edge. Taking this simple action could prevent major water damage when you’re away.
These preventative measures could go a long way in protecting your Texas home from extreme weather conditions. If another Texas snow storm should occur, your home will have a fighting chance. Should you experience a plumbing emergency, don’t hesitate to call! Our team of experts are ready to deploy to anyone who needs us in Austin and San Antonio, TX.
Radiant is Austin and San Antonio’s #1 in heating repair. The Texas cold can sneak up on communities across Central Texas without warning. When that time of year comes around, you’ll want your heating system to kick into gear without delay. Explore heating repair services at Radiant today to get all your questions answered. If you’re ready to reach out, complete our easy contact form.