10 Dec

Time to winterize your plumbing, Portland, Oregon

It’s time to winterize your plumbing! Be ready for the cold that’s coming and prevent water disasters, such as flooded basements from burst pipes,

It’s Time To Winterize Your Plumbing, Portland!

Many of the water disasters that were the result of a freeze, could have been avoided with some basic winter maintenance. One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is to either put it off too long or perform the task incorrectly.

Standard outside faucets with winterization shut off valves. 

time to winterize your plumbing

If you have a garage, there is a good chance that there is an outside hose bibb or hydrant, attached to it along with a service valve located somewhere in the garage (usually somewhere in close proximity to the water heater – see below).


time to winterize your plumbing

The shut off valve to your garage hydrant is either a ball and waste or another form of valve with a waste cap. Note: The “waste cap” is to allow air into the system so that when you turn off the valve to your hose bibb, air can displace the water.

Turning the above valve off without opening the “waste cap” will result in a vacuum. As such, water cannot drain even though the water is shut off and the outside hydrant completely open.

time to winterize your plumbing

Here are a couple of images to illustrate taking off the “waste cap” to prepare the faucet for draining. In theory, you are only required to loosen the “waste cap” to allow air into the system. But as you can see from the below image, there is a small rubber gasket up inside the cap.

time to winterize your plumbing

Opening the “waste cap”, to ensure the drain line is open and can get air to drain properly. Sometimes this gasket will get stuck to the drain on the valve body, thus not allowing air into the system. That’s why I remove the cap completely, allow a little water to drain out (see above) just to make sure the drain is open, and then replace the cap back onto the drain with just a turn or two making sure it is still loose.

And you’re still not done yet. The majority of modern outside hydrants also have an Anti Siphon Valve at the tip. Exercising this is the final step to winterize your outside hydrants.
time to winterize your plumbing

As you can see, the Anti Siphon Valve above has a pin protruding out of the spout. After performing the earlier steps, the last step is to push this pin to the side and hold it until the water is drained. On some vacuum breakers like the one above, will have a ring to pull down or lift up. Use the same instructions for these as well.

Here are all the steps, in order to winterize your outside hydrant…

  • Close the service valve (see above).
  • Disconnect garden hose from outside faucet and leave it disconnected for the season.
  • Open the outside faucet and leave it open.
  • Return to service valve and open the “waste cap”. After making sure that the gasket is not stuck and blocking the flow, place the cap back on the drain loosely.
  • And then finally, return to the outside hydrant and exercise the Anti Siphon Valve (see above).

Clearly, it’s no wonder so many end up with broken pipes even though they thought they prepared properly. Again, the most common mistake made when winterizing the above outside hydrant, is that some or all of the above steps are not performed properly.

Frost Proof Hydrants

time to winterize your plumbing

If you have a frost proof hydrant, the only thing you need to remember to do is to disconnect the garden hose connected to it. This is because a frost proof hydrant has a long stem that will actually stop the water on the heated side of the house. So when a garden hose is left attached, the faucet barrel cannot drain.

If you have left the hose connected all winter and are unsure if there is damage, simply turn it on. If it froze up, the barrel is likely cracked and will leak inside the wall, only when the valve is turned on.

time to winterize your plumbing
As you can see, this faucet has a long stem designed to stop the water on the heated side of the room. After turning this valve off, the excess water left in the faucet drains on out of the 6″ to 30″ barrel. But if you have a garden hose connected, it cannot drain and thus will freeze and break during harsh weather. (SEE BELOW)
time to winterize your plumbing
When this happens, the faucet will leak every time you turn it on to use it.


time to winterize your plumbing

Another common oversight when preparing for winter weather is leaving the foundation vents unprotected. These vents must be open in the warmer weather to allow your home to breath

But during the winter, they must be blocked to prevent arctic winds from freezing your pipes. No matter how well you insulate your pipes, if the arctic winds are allowed to enter the crawl space, they will simply take longer to freeze, but freeze they will!

time to winterize your plumbingtime to winterize your plumbing


Of course, if all this is more than you want to tackle, you can always hire a professional.

For your plumbing preparations, give us a call! We’ll always be there for you.

If you just need a little advice, feel free to call Caisie Breen at 971-563-9418.