As the leaves continue to fall and the air turns crisp, homeowners across the country will be firing up their thermostats possibly for the first time this season. Hot water radiators will emit strange noises and smells from inactivity, and in some cases, may fail to heat properly due to trapped air filling the radiator. Also, the cold temperatures will cause breaks and leaks in pipes as temperatures rapidly drop. Preventative action against cold damage is never top-of-mind, but following a few winterization tips can save you lots of money against costly neglegence. You are a burst pipe away from an emergency plumbing service call.
At Plumbing Supply Now, we want to offer a few tips on how to prepare for winter. As plumbing contractors stock up on winterization items such as supply valves and circulator pumps, we want you to kick off the cold season in the know.
Do it Yourself: How to Bleed a Hot Water Radiator
Hot Water Radiators:
Hot water radiators are a great source of heat, however it is recommended to bleed them once a year. Your local plumber can easily do it during their checkup visit, but you can save a few dollars by taking preventative measures yourself to ensure longevity of your hot water radiator.
First, turn on the heat to allow the hot water radiator to reach capacity (we recommend doing this early in the fall before the tempuratures drop in case there is an issue). If the top of the radiator feels cold and the bottom warm, it usually means there is air trapped in the top preventing the steam from filling the entire radiator. If you have multiple radiators and they have the same issue as described, it could mean bigger things like your water heater is malfunctioning. (Please note, do not bleed a radiator unless the heat is OFF. Step 1 is the initial test to make sure the radiator is functioning properly. Allow enough time for the radiator to feel cold before performing the radiator bleed.)
Second, Open your radiator’s intake and exit valves. Make sure both are turned to the “open” position.
Second, use a radiator key to open the bleed valve. Most homeowners if they own an older home might not have one, but you can find them at most hardware stores or on our website at www.plumbingsupplynow.com. Also you can use a small wrench if you have one to fit. If bleeding more than one radiator, make sure to do them all at once.
Third, open the radiator bleed valve with the key or wrench by turning counter-clockwise. Hold a small cup to catch water that will sputter from the bleed valve. At this point, you will hear steam release in a hissing sound while the trapped cold air begins to escape from the top of the radiator. When a steady stream of water comes out consistantly, you have released all of the air trapped in the radiator.
Next, re-tighten your bleed valve with your radiator key by turning the key clockwise. Make sure no water is leaking from the bleed valve and wipe down any access water.
Finally, check your pressure level on your boiler. Most boilers maintain an average pressure of 12-15 psi. If the pressure has dropped below this reading, you may have to add water manually but most boilers have an automatic fill system so you should be fine.
How to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing
So now that you have bled your hot water radiator and can feel the heat througout your house, there is still another part of winterization that is often overlooked. Your pipes. Imagine the nightmare of having your pipes burst on an 18 degree January night. Your first step, shut off your main water valve. Do you know where it is?!? (See previous blog for shutting off main water valve.)
What causes pipes to burst? Well, quite simply ice. When water freezes, it expands and creates internal pressure. Steel, brass, and plastic pipes all will succumb to the pressure of water as it freezes on the inside and has nowhere to go but out.
Pipes that burst are due to exposure to the cold which makes it important to insulate and secure pipes most vulnerable to the elements.
Do it Yourself: How to protect your pipes and prevent damage from freezing.
- Inspect Your Property. Examples of high risk pipes are sprinkler lines, pipes leading to your pool or jacuzzi, and water supply lines in attics, crawlspaces, storage sheds, basements, and garages. These are areas mostly exposed to the outside winter temperatures. If you walk your property, any pipe that is visibile to the eye is at risk.
- Insulation Sleeves. You can purchase slip-on foam pipe sleeves or wrapping, but make sure there are no gaps or open areas as the cold will effect the unprotected surfaces. Plastic piping is the most tolerant compared to copper and steel, but nothing is 100% safe.
- Detach all hoses from outdoor spigots. A very common mistake people make is forgetting to shut off their outside water hoses from the summer months. Make sure to leave the outdoor tap slightly open so there is a slow drip to prevent freezing.
- Keep your heat on, even when you are away. We know its nice to save money on your electric or gas bill, but dont go too far. Dropping your inside temperature too much can put your pipes at risk. Be reasonable and keep your temerature above 55-60 degrees at least.
Hopefully, these winterization pointers for your home will come in handy. If you arent sure about a few steps, ask your local Plumber.
Plumbing Supply Now is a full service plumbing supply warehouse for all plumbing essentials for all professionals and contractors. Call today at 1-888-224-4995 to discuss what we can do to assist you and your business, or visit us at www.plumbingsupplynow.com.