Winter Weather Plumbing Preparations

Here are some actions you can take to protect your plumbing appliances during freezing temperatures, as well as tips to prevent pipes from bursting and causing damage.


If You’ve Lost Power

If temperatures are going to be below freezing for several days, and you are without power or concerned that you may lose power while you are away from your home, you can prepare by doing the following:

  1. Shut off water to the house and open hose bibs (outdoor faucets) and lavatory faucets.
  2. If you have an electric tanked water heater or a tankless water heater, take steps to drain it and turn off the breaker to the unit. View the Emergency Shutdown Instructions graphic below.
  3. You shouldn’t need to drain a gas heater, as the gas supply should remain on during a power outage, which will prevent the unit from freezing. If you decide to drain a gas water heater, be sure to turn off gas to the unit.


If You Still Have Power

  1. Open up the cabinets beneath the faucets that are located on the exterior walls. This allows the heat from the house to help warm the pipes.
  2. Leave a drip on both hot and cold water at faucets. Moving water is unlikely to freeze. Know that hot water will freeze quicker than cold water.
  3. Remember to remove all hoses from hose bibs.


If You Experience Intermittent Power

If power is off and on intermittently, follow the same precautions above for those with power, however, know that long periods of time with temperatures below freezing and little sunlight can cause anything to freeze, regardless of how well your pipes are insulated.


Turning The Water Supply Back On

Once you decide to turn your water back on, you’ll more than likely have air in the line, so allow the lavatory water faucets and hose bibs to run a little bit to allow air to escape. After shutting off your faucet, listen to make sure that you don’t hear water running (if you do, this could indicate a leak). If you’re able to access your water meter, and the meter is spinning, then turn the water back off and call your plumber.


Restoring Service to Electric Water Heaters

Once the water heater fills back up, you can turn the breaker back on. It is important that you wait until the water heater is full to turn the breaker back on, otherwise, you can damage the elements. It will take a few hours for the water to heat back up. You should no longer hear water running once the water heater has been filled. If you do hear running water after it has been filled, shut the water supply back off and call a plumber. 


The tips above are industry rules of thumb, and should generally protect your plumbing. They do not, however, guarantee that your plumbing pipes and appliances won’t incur damage.


For Additional Reading

How to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

Seven Steps to Handling a Pipe Burst In Your Home


The Tankless Experts

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The Importance of Tankless Water Heater Maintenance

Not only does a tankless water heater reduce water heating costs by as much as 50 percent, you’ll never run out of hot water. A tankless water heater also lasts longer than a traditional tank heater. In fact, it can last up to 20 years or longer with low energy costs if its properly maintained. This translates into a tankless water heater offering a significantly greater return on investment which considerably covers its higher initial cost.

Aside from a few steps on how to maintain your tankless water heater you can do on your own, it’s a really good idea to have a licensed plumber take a look at your tankless unit once annually.

No one likes repair costs. Maintenance is the solution to that surprise expense. Some companies even have a program you can take advantage of that benefits homeowners with services that minimize the risk of any potential breakdowns. There are also a few tips to maintaining your unit before you need to call a plumber.

Horizon offers a protection plan for both tanked and tankless water heaters. Benefits of the plan include yearly check-ups and replacement of bad components, giving you peace of mind, and helping to ensure that your water heater will continue to provide service for years to come. Don’t wait for a costly break, keep your home investments in shape.

Learn How to Turn Off the Electrical Circuit to the Heater

Electricity and water can be a risky combination for those who are unsure of what they are doing. Before you begin any type of maintenance on your water heater, you will want to turn it off. This requires turning off the heater’s electrical circuit at the breaker panel. Not sure how to do this? Contact a professional plumber or an electrician.

Check the Wiring

Once the power is shut off to the heater, open the cover by removing the cover plate and carefully evaluate the wiring. Look closely at all sides because wear and tear can sometimes be in areas that are hidden. If any wires look damaged or frayed, particularly if there is bare wire showing, call your plumber immediately. Wire problems could damage the unit or even result in a fire. Don’t take chances and call for a repair before using it again.

Clean the Screen

Along with having the electricity turned off, you’ll also want to turn off the water at the main water valve. Once the tankless water heater is turned off and water isn’t flowing to it, unscrew the water supply to the bottom of the heater. There will be a filter inside that can be either flat or conical in shape. Take out this filer and flush it under running water. Ideally, flush the screen over a bucket with water from a jug so that it doesn’t slip out of your hand and down a drain. How often you should clean the screen will depend on the quality of your water. Initially, you will want to clean the screen and check for sediment approximately three to six months after your tank is installed. Ideally, clean the screen twice a year or more if you have water with a heavy mineral content.

Flush the Unit

Nearly all tankless water heater manufacturers recommend their units be flushed at least once per year to eliminate mineral buildup. Some units will give specifics on how often they require flushing. The flushing process takes about one hour. This is a multi-step process, and you will need some basic supplies for flushing the unit:

  • Screwdriver
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Pond or sump pump
  • 2 sections of a garden hose with connectors
  • Wrench
  • 5 gallons of white vinegar


  1. You will want to turn off the water supply valve that feeds cold water to the water heater and the main hot water valve that sends hot water to your home’s fixtures.
  2. Connect one end of a 6-foot garden hose to the outlet of a pond or sump pump. Connect the other end of the hose to the cold water isolation valve. Connect a second hose to the hot water isolation valve. Tighten the hose couplers with a wrench.
  3. Place the pump and the open end of the second hose into a large bucket. Fill the bucket with 5 gallons of clean white vinegar.
  4. Open the hot and cold valves on the water heater and turn on the pump in the bucket to circulate the vinegar through the heater for 45 minutes.
  5. Turn off the pump and let the remaining vinegar drain from the water heater through the hoses into the bucket. Close the cold water isolation valve.
  6. Dump the vinegar and place the open-ended hose back into the bucket. Turn on the cold-water supply valve and let the water flow into the bucket for five minutes. Close the cold-water supply valve and disconnect the hoses.
  7. Turn on the hot water supply valve and then the cold-water supply valve. Open a hot water faucet in the house to remove any air from the hot water lines.
  8. Check for any leaks in the connections.
  9. Turn on the circuit breaker for the water heater. Test for hot water at the faucets.

Comparing Water Heaters?

Are you in the market for a new water heater and contemplating the purchase of a tankless model? It’s a good idea to speak with a professional plumber who can give you the facts, figures and details of both tank and tankless models to help you determine the best option for your household. Call Horizon Plumbing today to get answers to all of your water heater questions at 817-461-1117.

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“Horizon Plumbing is excellent! We woke to no hot water. My phone call was answered by a kind, friendly, helpful woman. She set us up for same-day service. The Service technicians were knowledgeable & patient in explaining the problem to us. They had to leave for a while to get the part needed for the repair. When they returned they replaced the part quickly and advised the time frame when we would have hot water. I recommend Horizon Plumbing because of their knowledge; their speedy response; their professionalism.”

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“”I’ve had your company out on two separate occassions to work on my water heaters. Both times, your people were very friendly and did great work. Those people are the face of your company and they have been awesome for me so far!”

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