It isn’t a secret that Colorado, especially the Denver area, has had a huge population influx. This may mean that this is the first, or one of the first Denver winters some new residents are experiencing. With that in mind, we wanted to led some support to recent transplants about the effect of Colorado’s winters can have on your plumbing, namely preventing frozen pipes and broken hose bibbs.
A hose bibb, or sillcock, is the area of pipe and faucet that is outdoors and attaches to your garden hose. Because it is outdoors and partially buried, it is one of the most vulnerable pipes in your home to freezing. If it freezes, a few different things can happen. It can thaw and everything is fine; it can split causing a water leak when it is turned back on in the spring; it can split and when defrosted can leak around or in your house. The second and third scenarios can be devastating, resulting in property damage, injury and/or a hefty insurance claim. Here’s how to prevent a frozen, split or otherwise broken hose bibb:
1 . Turn off water to that line when the weather is above freezing and you are no longer going to be using your garden hose.
2. Drain your water hose and disconnect it from the hose bibb.
3. Insulate the hose bibb, especially if it has northern exposure.
4. Consider installing a frost-free sillcock which is designed to better withstand a cold snap.
Other pipes in your home are less likely to freeze, especially if you are living/staying in the house and have proper insulation. Apart from your hose bibb, your most vulnerable water lines are located in unheated and/or uninsulated parts of your home such as your garage, basement or crawl spaces. Pipes located in cabinets and that are attached to an exterior wall are also at risk for freezing.
Often, we see pipes freeze when the homeowner has left on vacation during the winter and didn’t properly prepare. Here’s what you can do to help prevent frozen pipes:
Know where your water shut off valve is located in the case of a water emergency. Have it clearly marked and communicate this information to your house sitter if you will not be home.
Consider shutting off your water and/or winterizing if you will be gone for an extended period of time during the winter months. In Colorado, while there can be snow anytime between Oct and May, most pipes only freeze when there is a run of several days in a row of freezing weather. (Freezing overnight temps that don’t warm above 30 degrees during the day)
When you are gone for the day, such as for work, or when you go to bed, keep your thermostat set above 55 degrees.
Add insulation to areas with vulnerable pipes, and/or insulate the pipes themselves.
Keep a low, slow drip on at-risk pipes as dripping water reduces the chance of freezing.
Read more tips here including what to do if you have a frozen pipe, from the Red Cross.