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PLUMBING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
AGE of PLUMBING MATERIALS & FIXTURES
AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES
ANTI SCALD VALVES
ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEPTIC
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEWER LINE
BACKWATER VALVES, SEWER LINE
BATH & KITCHEN DESIGN GUIDE
CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER
CHEMICAL ODOR SOURCES
CHLORINE IN DRINKING WATER
DEBRIS in WATER SUPPLY, Water Heater
DEPTH of SEPTIC TANK
DRAIN & SEWER PIPING
FAUCETS & CONTROLS, KITCHEN & BATH
FAUCETS, OUTDOOR HOSE BIBBS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOR DRAIN / TRAP ODORS
FLUSHOMETER VALVES for TOILETS URINALS
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
HARD WATER - SOFTENERS
HEAT TAPES, Heat, Insulation prevent Freeze-Up
LEAD POISONING HAZARDS GUIDE
LEAD IN DRINKING WATER, HOW to REDUCE
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENTS
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS IN WATER
ODORS, SEPTIC or SEWER
ODORS SEWER GAS in COLD WEATHER
ODORS, SULPHUR SMELL SOURCES
ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION
PIPING IN BUILDINGS, Clogs Leaks Types
PLUMBING FIXTURES, KITCHEN, BATH
PLUMBING NOISE CONTROL
PLUMBING VENT DEFINITIONS & CODES
PLUMBING VENT DEFECTS & NOISES
PUMPS, WATER REPAIR
RELIEF VALVE LEAKS
RELIEF VALVES - TP Valves on Boilers
RELIEF VALVES - STEAM TP VALVES
RELIEF VALVES - Water Heaters
RELIEF VALVES - Water Tanks
REPAIR BURST LEAKY PIPES
METHANE GAS HAZARDS
SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SHUTOFF VALVE LOCATION, USE
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
SWEATING (CONDENSATION) on PIPES, TANKS
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMPS & TANKS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SOURCE ALTERNATIVES
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER SHUTOFF VALVE LOCATION, USE
WATER SHUTOFF VALVE, WELL PUMP
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This article explains how to de-winterize a building, including turning the water supply back on and getting heat, plumbing fixtures and other systems working.
We also discuss what problems to look for when de-winterizing a building. The articles at this website will answer most questions about freeze protection for piping and other building plumbing and heating system components: how to winterize a building to avoid frozen pipes, and how to thaw frozen water supply & drain piping, wells, & water tanks.
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Our photo shows building piping running through a poorly insulated area behind a shower. The combination of lack of building insulation, lack of pipe insulation, and the inability of building heat to enter this chase-way resulted in a frozen water pipe where we're shining our flashlight.
The steps below discuss how to find just where piping has frozen and how then to thaw it out safely.
We've used simple touch, by hand, feeling pipes for changed in the pipe temperature, or infra-red scanners to scan along piping to look for a drop in pipe temperature that may mark a frozen pipe location. If the heating pipes are frozen, often a section of the heating baseboard will be hot (hot water rising into the piping by convection if not forced by the circulator pump).
Some methods we've seen used to thaw frozen pipes, in our preferred order include:
If a hot water heating pipe has frozen or a steam condensate heating pipe has frozen you won't see the leak until the building warms up but you may have trouble getting heat in some areas.
If a water supply pipe has frozen you will see the leak as soon as the building warms up and the frozen pipe thaws, unless water has been turned off.
If a drain pipe has frozen you'll notice it as the drain will be blocked. Worse will be the discovery of unsanitary water leaking when the piping thaws. Here are some tips for making repairs when these problems occur. A frozen fixture trap will be a smaller local leak that you should discover quickly by inspecting each fixture. The exception which occurs commonly is a frozen bath shower trap in a bathroom over an unheated garage. Such traps or other plumbing leaks may drain into the garage ceiling where they cause more damage and take a bit longer to discover.
Find & repair the any frozen, leaky pipe breaks, cut out and replace that section of piping as follows:
Although we may have been careful to follow all of the best practices in winterizing a building, it is still possible that a pipe has frozen and burst during cold weather. So the procedure of turning heat and water supply back on in a building needs to include some careful and frequent checks for leaks or unsafe (heating system) conditions. Never ever simply turn on water, heat, or even electricity in a building that has been shut-down without remaining to monitor for unsafe conditions, fire, smoke, improper heating system operation, or the presence of leaks.
But look at the heating equipment before even thinking of turning it back on. If your furnace has been flooded as this one, it is possible that the system is unsafe and should not be turned back on. Before turning a heating system back on we need to:
If the heating system was a steam or hot water boiler, check the boiler carefully for leaks when it is restored to service.
Particularly some models of cast iron heating boilers may include boiler sections which loosen when the boiler spends months in a "cold" state, leading to boiler section leaks when the heater is filled and returned to service.
Then when you are ready to turn on the water supply, remember to run enough water into each fixture to fill the trap, then check the trap for leaks.
If your traps corroded, or if the trap arrangement is improper like this crazy collection of double-S-traps under a sink (photo at left), this is a good time to toss the old parts and have a plumber install a new trap that drains properly.
After you have turned on water supply, try each fixture by running a gallon or less of water into it. Then turn off the water and check the fixture trap for leaks.
When you're confident that you've restored the fixture trap without leaks, run water longer to test the building drain piping for blockage or leaks.
Stop, look, and listen for leaks. Before leaving the building that has been de-winterized, turn on one or more fixtures at a time, leave water running for a few minutes while you walk through the building looking and listening for evidence of a drain leak.
Watch out: Check for drain leaks both indoors and outside before leaving the building. Of course if you detect a leak in the drain system turn the water supply off immediately and remove any spills before starting the leak repair.
Here we recommend that you follow a staged step by step approach to turning on water in a building where the water supply has been shut down over a winter or during a period of absence. The staged approach lets us check each building area and fixture one by one, minimizing the chances of extensive water damage even if a leak has occurred while the building was unattended.
Even for buildings located in areas not subject to freezing and burst pipes, a staged water turn-on approach is useful. A pipe may have been damaged or cut by building activities, a trap may have corroded through, or other plumbing damage may be present even if no freezing conditions occurred.
Step by Step Details of the staged water-on procedure can be read at Turning on Water.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Question: no water pressure, frozen pipes, how can I get water going?
1/27/2014 Bill Schultz said:
Have had extreme cold weather here.
Leave some faucets open in hope that you will relieve increasing water pressure in water supply piping that may be freezing. There is a chance that that will reduce the chance of burst pipes. Of course if water begins to flow at normal rate you'll shut it off.
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