This year in Austin, Texas, February reared its wintery head one last time when temps dropped from 70° and sunny to the snowy teens in less than a week’s time. If you followed PreFix’s tips to prepare your home, hopefully your pipes were spared from the harsh freeze. Now that the ice has melted and the sun’s back out, we’re sharing a few tips to make absolutely sure your plumbing is intact and your water is safe to drink.
Check your home for signs of frozen or burst pipes:
- Inspect the interior of your home. Walk through your entire house, especially the bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and those adjacent to them. Look for not only dripping water, but also signs that water is leaking out of sight: damp drywall, rings on the ceiling, unusual odors or bubbling, banging, clanking, or whistling noises. Finally, examine any exposed pipes for frost, condensation, or bulging areas.
- Inspect unheated areas of your home. Water supply lines in unheated areas such as unfinished basements, crawl spaces, attics, and garages are particularly susceptible to freezing. You could see leaks, pooled water, and other warning signs in these spaces as well.
- Check the functionality of your plumbing. Only after completing steps one and two, turn on the faucets (both hot and cold) and flush the toilets to ensure they’re working. The water should have no discoloration or odor. An open faucet that produces a slow trickle or no water at all is a good reason to suspect that a pipe has frozen.
- Inspect the exterior of your home. Walk your property and note whether water has accumulated anywhere it shouldn’t. Inspect the spigots and faucets, then turn them on and allow them to run for a few seconds to make sure they’re working properly with sufficient water pressure.
- If you have access to your water meter (it would be in your front yard, about 10 feet from the street), you should check it for leaks. Here’s how: Turn off all of the faucets in your home, as well as the dishwasher, washing machine, and any other appliance that uses water. Read the meter and make a note of the usage, wait 15 minutes, then check the meter again. If there’s been usage marked on the meter, you might have a broken pipe.
If anything looks out of place from the checklist, shut off the water supply to the affected area of the house — or to the entire home, if necessary — and leave your faucets open. PreFix members should reach out to us immediately so we can get started coordinating with a plumber on your behalf.
After your area’s water boil notice has been lifted:
- Dump existing ice from your refrigerator’s ice maker and flush the water feed lines by making and discarding three batches of ice cubes. Wipe down the ice bin with a disinfectant. If the distance between the water feed line and the machine is longer than 20 feet, increase that number to five batches.
- To flush your plumbing, run all your cold water faucets on full for at least five minutes each. If your service connection is long or complex (i.e. an apartment building), consider flushing the faucets for a longer period of time.
- Be sure you’ve run enough water to completely replace at least one full volume of all lines and tanks: hot water heaters, water coolers, inline filters, and other appliances with direct water connections or tanks. If your filters are near the end of their life, now is a good time to replace them.