A Preventable Winter Disaster

Winterizing your home plumbing isn’t just about conserving energy and being “green,” although that is an added bonus.

It’s about potentially saving yourself thousands of dollars in repairs when something goes wrong in cold winter weather…

saving yourself hours and hours of time battling with home insurance claims…

….and saving yourself the heartache of the loss of personal, possibly irreplaceable, photos, keepsakes and valuables.

It’s a heartache and a hassle that we see firsthand at Robinson’s Plumbing Service way too often. And what makes it even harder for all of us to see, from the family owners to the background-checked professionals we hire, is that we know how preventable these accidents are.

Like the story of one of our clients who had a three-story condo rental property that was unoccupied one winter. She left the heat set at 54 degrees, which seemed like it should have been adequate to prevent pipes from freezing.

However, the power went out during a snow storm, and a water line froze in the attic. When the power returned, the pipe thawed – and burst, because the pipe had expanded so much when it had frozen. As you can imagine, the water flowed down and flooded all three floors.

Since no one was home, the owner had no idea that any of this was going on, until a neighbor called her to tell her. In the meantime, water flowed for a long time before anyone noticed, only intensifying the damage.

The condo owner immediately called us that Saturday, and we arrived within the hour. We turned off the water and repaired the pipe. Then, we were able to refer her to an excellent water restoration company and contractor, whom we trust and have seen great work from, to help her repair the rest of the condo.

We helped as much as we could with the damage control after the pipe had burst. But if she had simply winterized properly and even had a monitoring system in place, all of this expense and hassle could have been avoided.

The first thing to consider when winterizing your residence or business is, “Are my pipes properly insulated?” What about those pipes that are closer to an outside wall than you think? They’re some of the most vulnerable. How will you keep your pipes warm if the heat or power goes out? Proper insulation can make the difference – and a simple check from a trained professional can tell you which pipes are at greatest risk, pipes you may not even have known about.

If you are leaving your property unoccupied for any extended period of time, even during vacation, you should shut off the main water valve to your property to prevent major leaks from happening. If you don’t know where your main water shut off valve is, give us a call. We will gladly stop by and show you where it is, as well as answer any questions you have about it while we’re there.

Finally, as a back-up to these and other winterizing precautions, a back-up that truly protects your property and valuables, consider a monitoring system like WaterSafe. Using moisture-detecting monitors under major appliances, this system can not only detect leaks and potential problems sooner – it can remotely turn off your main water shut off valve to prevent major damage to your home or building. You can even choose to receive an alert when there’s a problem. And once the problem is fixed, it’s easy to turn the water back on with a simple “over-ride” button.

If you have expensive or irreplaceable property, or you’re away from home a lot or manage rentals, a small investment in a system like WaterSafe could mean the difference between a small fix to a pipe or appliance and thousands of dollars in water damage restoration, not to mention the hours needed for insurance claims.

If you have questions about winterizing, any of the information in this blog, or any other blog, please feel free to contact us. We are always happy to answer questions about plumbing and related topics. That’s one of the bonuses of talking to a local family-owned company – our time is our own, and we pride ourselves as much on being good neighbors as we do on being good, professional plumbers.

Stay tuned for more winterizing tips! We still have so much to cover, so that you’re covered this winter!

Robinson’s Plumbing Service proudly serves all of Central Virginia, including CharlottesvilleCrozet, Troy, and all of Goochland County