One of my favorite stories about Placerville is the history of the Bell Tower. After a series of fires in 1856, the citizens realized they needed an emergency warning system for the town’s protection. A bell was ordered from England, and, when it arrived, it was hung in a wooden tower, later replaced by a steel structure as a safeguard from the wear and tear of the elements—and it still stands in our great city today.
Just like the bell tower, we have to protect our homes from extreme weather to avoid things like burst pipes, leaky roofs, and broken furnaces—including the exposed piping in your garage. We often don’t think about the garage as an extension of our homes, so when it comes to plumbing, we forget that the piping may extend into it. But, for the sake of our homes’ entire plumbing system, we need to take extra care to protect those pipes from cold weather.
Why You Should Worry About Garage Piping This Winter
The main concern for piping in a garage is that, often, the garage is not conditioned—it can get really hot in there in the summer, and really cold in the winter. If a pipe bursts in your home, for example, you’re likely to notice it immediately. But, unless you’re frequently in your garage, a busted pipe out there may go unnoticed. Here are some ways damaged garage piping can cause problems for your home:
- A high water bill: If your pipes burst in your garage, you may not notice as quickly as you would inside your home. An undiscovered pipe leak means that you are unknowingly running up your water bill—and in some cases by quite a bit.
- Damage to personal items: We recently had an AC leak in our garage that we didn’t discover until we had a garage sale. The leak was easily fixed, but, because it had been going on for some time, a lot of boxes were destroyed, or covered in mold. This is a concern with leaky plumbing in your garage as well—it can cause water damage and bread harmful mold.
- Loss of water pressure: If you have a leak and don’t know it, you may notice the pressure in your pipes has decreased. Without proper water pressure, you’ll find that sinks and bathtubs take longer to fill, you take longer showers, and your washing machine may take more time to complete its cycle.
How to Weatherize the Exposed Piping in Your Garage
It’s getting chillier in the evenings, which means it’s time to do something about your exposed garage piping. Water damage from plumbing failures and freezing pipes is the second most frequent insurance claim in the U.S, so there’s no doubt preventing frozen pipes is important, but how do you keep your pipes protected?
- Insulation: Insulating all your exposed piping should be your first step. A lot of times, insulation alone will keep piping from losing too much heat to the elements. It’s important to make sure the piping is insulated and secured with tape to ensure air doesn’t seep through any cracks.
- Heat tape: This handy stuff can be wrapped around piping, then plugged into a wall. Think of it as an electric blanket for your pipes, keeping them warm and snug through winter.
- A dripping faucet: This tried and true anecdote for preventing burst pipes applies to garage piping, as well as other plumbing in and out of your home. Turn on the faucet just a tad to keep water moving—heat prefers to gravitate to areas of agitation, or movement. It will also keep water from having the chance to collect and freeze within your pipes.
Even one of these solutions will give your garage piping much needed protection from cold temperatures ahead; however, you’ll need the proper insulation, tapes, and sealants to fully properly insulate your piping system.
A plumbing professional can expertly install insulation—and seal it—to prevent leaks or damage to your pipes, and ultimately your home, this winter. If you’re not experienced with insulating piping, it’s best to contact a local plumbing or piping professional.
Don’t Forget to Insulate Your Hidden Plumbing
If you’ve done your due diligence, your exposed garage piping is bundled up in insulation or heat tape, and the faucets in your home have a slow trickle at all times. But you might be forgetting about something just as important hidden away in the walls of your garage. You guessed it—more piping.
The walls and ceiling of your garage are likely adjacent to the kitchen or a bathroom. If the walls of your garage aren’t insulated, there’s a great chance that in-wall plumbing will be exposed to extreme temperatures. You must protect the piping in your walls shared with any unconditioned space, like a garage, where there’s a threat of pipes freezing.
This is where you really want to consult a professional, because, in addition to piping insulation, you may also want to ensure the walls themselves are properly insulated. As a bonus, this is a great step to also stop heat loss from your home.
Fall is a great time of year in our beautiful town of Placerville, with lots of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy as the holidays approach. Soon, though, the temperatures will plummet with the first sign of winter. While the weather’s still above freezing, it’s a great time to think about weatherizing the pipes in, and near, your garage. Winterizing your garage’s plumbing can be done inexpensively—and within a few hours if you call in a local professional. And, it’s likely to prevent more expensive repairs and utility bills in the winter months ahead, so there’s no disruption to your family holiday celebrations.
If the worst should happen, and a frozen pipe bursts in your home, call the plumbing professionals at Bell Brothers—they’ll have your piping repaired or replaced in a jiffy.