Remember Snowmageddon? Winterize Wisely!
Brought to you by Dynamic Plumbing
Winterizing your cabin goes beyond a mere seasonal routine—it’s essential for maintaining the integrity of your home. As the mercury drops, cabins without proper preparation can face numerous issues, from frozen pipes to potential structural damages. For those new to mountain life, especially Mundsies confronting heavy snowfall for the first time, the experience can be overwhelming. A proactive approach to seasonal preparation is the key. By mastering these winter challenges, you save time and money and ensure your cabin remains safe and cozy, even amidst the harshest climates.
Shovel Before You Step!
Shoveling the snow before walking or driving on it isn’t just about convenience—it’s a proactive measure against snow compaction. Compact snow, due to footsteps or vehicle pressure, becomes dense and icy, making it notably harder to clear—like unbelievably harder! Prioritizing shoveling means easier clearing, less risk to your back, and safer, slip-free paths. Moreover, it helps maintain the integrity of underlying surfaces.
Another point worth mentioning: if you traverse unplowed snow and later hire someone for snow clearing, prepare to pay a premium. Compact snow requires more effort and time, justifying the additional charges by those you hire.
Main Water Valve
The main water valve, often out of sight and out of mind, demands regular attention. Periodically inspect your valve and ensure the surrounding cylinders—typically located near the water meter—are free from debris. You can either hire a handyman or simply use a shop vac for cleaning.
Also, really consider tagging your main water valve. In the depths of winter, when snow piles high, a marked valve can be a lifesaver. It saves you the effort and expense of hiring someone to locate it amid a snowy storm. And let’s face it, finding a handyman in a winter storm isn’t easy if not impossible!
Lastly, after each snowfall, carve out a clear path to your valve. It's added work, but in emergencies, this effort pays off, allowing you swift access to the shut-offs.
As winter nears, both seasonal and year-round Mundsies should detach and drain all garden hoses before the frost sets in. Leaving water inside can spell disaster when it freezes and expands, potentially causing the hose bib to burst. This isn’t just a surface concern; the hose bib’s shut-off valve is located deeper within the wall. How deep? It depends on your pipe’s length. The more inward this valve, the more significant the damage if the hose is not detached.
A Quick Word on PEX Piping
Many homes use PEX pipes because they can handle the cold well. But, be careful: not all PEX pipes are the same. There’s PEX-A, which is really good at expanding if the water inside it freezes. Then there’s PEX-B and PEX-C, which don’t expand. If you’re not sure which one you have, don’t just assume it’s the expandable kind. It’s always good to check, especially if you’re leaving your cabin in the cold. If you’re unsure, ask a plumber to help you out.
Mind Your Temperature Settings
Before leaving your cabin for the winter, it’s essential to understand the risks and responsibilities. Insurance companies emphasize that homeowners must ensure their properties are safe during the cold months. A common misconception is that setting the thermostat at 50-55º is sufficient to prevent pipes from freezing. It’s always prudent to consult with your insurance company about their specific temperature recommendations. Adhering to their guidelines could be crucial for maintaining coverage in the event of damage.
Anticipate Power Outages
While relying on technology like remote thermostats is convenient, remember that power outages are a certainty, not just a possibility. Extended periods without power, especially during freezing conditions, make your cabin vulnerable. Without electricity, you lose control and visibility over the internal environment of your property. Such conditions, when combined with extreme cold, can lead to significant plumbing issues if you rely on heat to maintain your pipes rather than proper winterizing.
Central to your cabin’s plumbing system is the water heater. If not winter-ready, it can quickly become a costly problem. When water inside the heater or its pipes freezes, it expands, potentially causing them to burst. Such ruptures can lead to extensive water damage throughout your cabin, from floors to walls and even its foundation. Repairing this damage is not only expensive but also incredibly inconvenient.
While winterizing might seem like a simple DIY task, it’s a nuanced process. Properly draining the tank and pipes, adjusting settings, and other intricate steps demand expertise. Instead of venturing into DIY territory, consider hiring a professional plumber. Their in-depth knowledge of various heater models and winter-proofing techniques ensures thorough preparation. With a professional touch, you’ll be confident that your water heater is winter-proof and your cabin remains safe.
For those dependent on propane for heating, water, and cooking, maintaining clear access to propane tanks is crucial. As snow accumulates, reaching these often-hidden tanks becomes a challenge.
Always keep a direct route from your delivery area to the propane tank. If the tank isn’t readily accessible, delivery companies will avoid refilling it due to safety and accessibility concerns. They could even lock the tank to prevent potential gas leaks during extended inaccessibility periods. This would necessitate your presence to unlock it.
Whether you’re at your cabin all winter or making sporadic visits, ensuring a clear path for propane deliveries is imperative. And, as arduous as it might be, this does mean clearing those pesky snow berms! For your safety and ease, prioritize keeping your propane tank accessible all winter.
Generators are a winter lifeline, ready to kick in when the unexpected strikes. Regardless of how frequently you occupy your cabin, an annual generator inspection and service are non-negotiable. You don’t want to find out about a generator issue in the middle of a cold blackout.
Though generators are highly reliable, they’re not without their limitations. They rely on fuel, so always have a backup plan in case your fuel reserves dip or run out.
Furthermore, keeping a clear path to your propane tank and generator is vital. Delivery and service providers prioritize safety above all and won’t contend with deep snow or obstructive snow berms. The responsibility falls on you to ensure these crucial areas remain accessible for smooth refueling or repairs.
It’s not a question of “if” there will be power outages but rather how long they will last. As Joe Esposito always says, “Lose your power, and you lose your protection.” Extended outages during freezing conditions can lead to bursting pipes and subsequent flooding. It’s prudent to invest in proper winterization rather than regret it later.
When looking for professional winterization services, it’s essential to ensure they are licensed, bonded, and offer guarantees for their work. Surprisingly, many companies don’t provide such assurances. What does this guarantee imply? Essentially, if pipes rupture and wreak havoc in your cabin post-winterization, the responsible company covers the damages. While a skilled plumber should execute their task flawlessly, leaving no room for concern, attempting this task yourself without the necessary expertise could be an invitation for disaster. It’s always wise to invest in professional services, ensuring your cabin remains precisely as you left it.
The winterization process typically costs between $100 and $175, though this might vary based on the house size and specifics. Standard procedures include draining water heaters, evacuating all water from toilets, and ensuring no residual water remains within the system.
If you plan on visiting your cabin sporadically during the winter, it’s worth coordinating with a local plumber. They can ensure your cabin is ready before your arrival and properly winterized upon your departure. It provides a level of security and peace of mind that’s hard to match.
One last note. If you have been in Munds Park for any length of time, you understand securing services at the last minute may mean you do without, so contact your favorite plumber today, and get on their schedule! Winter is on the way!