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How Do I Turn My Water on in the Winter? (FAQ)

Any professional ice dam remover will need access to water, and one of the best ways to save a little money is to turn on the outdoor spigot yourself beforehand.

Here are the steps we recommend:

1. If you have an irrigation system make sure you take a moment to make a phone call to your irrigation contractor. Make sure the spigot you plan to turn on is not directly connected to the irrigation system.  Usually they aren’t: often your contractor will close the valve leading to your irrigation system in the autumn, and use a zip-tie to keep it closed.  Still, you may save thousands of dollars by confirming in-advance whether that is the case.  Either way you’ll want to find out which valve to shut off or turn on, and which spigot to direct us to prior to our arrival. Otherwise, you run the risk of unknowingly shattering your irrigation system by flooding it with water, which will then freeze and burst the underground pipes throughout your yard.

2.  Once you’ve decided which spigot you’ll be turning on, go ahead and turn on that spigot from inside the house. There’s usually a ball valve that turns the water on and off, and it has a lever you can flip.  If the lever is perpendicular to the pipe, the spigot is off.  If it’s parallel to the pipe, it’s on.  If it turns out that you’ve got a screw-valve, then righty-tighty is off, and left-loosey is on.  If your significant other usually handles this detail make sure to call that person or to discuss this with them before they leave the house for the day so they can show it to you (or better yet, do it for you).  Usually you’ll find it in your crawl space or in the utility room.  The on/off valve you’re searching for is almost always near the spigot’s location on the exterior of your house.  For example, if your spigot is located on the exterior of the southeast corner of your house, there’s a good chance the on/off valve for that spigot is located just inside the wall of the southeast corner.

3.  One the valve is flipped parallel with the pipe (or unscrewed all the way), go outside, open the spigot, and see if any water comes out. If it doesn’t, it’s frozen. We can thaw it with a heat gun for you, but if you want to save some money you can attempt to do this yourself with a hairdryer.

There are two ways to do that.  The sure-fire way is to stand outside and blow hot air up the faucet. But you can probably it from inside as well, which is easier, if not always as effective.  Get as close to the wall as you can, then direct the warm air onto the copper pipe – towards the spigot, using the shut-off valve as a guide.  You’ll hear when the water starts flowing.  Keep in mind that blowing hot air onto a flammable material is dangerous.  You’ll need to exercise extreme caution while doing this. 

You can feel happy when you hear that sound of flowing water, because you’ve probably saved $100 or more with these few simple steps.  You’ve saved us from having to waste time taking off our snowy, well-loved boots to come inside and hunt for your valve, look for an exterior outlet, plug in an extension cord, and thaw the spigot ourselves.

Make sure you don’t close the spigot once it’s thawed. Shut the water off in the house again, go outside, and let the water drain from the spigot. When it’s drained, close it and leave it alone until we get there. Then when we show up, just turn the valve back on and we be should be good to go.

By the way, you don’t even have to go through all of those steps to save some money.  Even taking the time to find the correct on/off valve before we arrive saves us a significant amount of time – time you don’t have to pay for.

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