With the cold weather and the holidays right around the corner, our minds are filled with a million things to get done, from gift shopping, to planning cozy evenings with friends, to picking out the perfect stretchy Thanksgiving pants. But in all the hustle and bustle of the season, don’t forget to put “winterize mobile home plumbing around your park” on your to-do list.
Taking steps ahead of time to keep the pipes in your tenants’ homes from freezing is crucial. If the water in the pipes freezes it will expand. If the faucets are closed, or if it takes place in a pipe that leads to a closed off appliance, the displaced water will have nowhere to escape. This pressure can cause the pipes to burst, leaving your tenants without running water, and leaving you scrambling to get it repaired.
Replacing ruined plumbing can be easily avoided with a little work up front. So plan ahead and save yourself a headache (or forty). Don’t let the pipes around your mobile home park freeze.
What can you do to avoid this winter nightmare? We’ll start by learning what causes pipes to freeze and burst. After that, we will give you some things you can do to start preparing them for the cold weather that’s coming your way.
Why do pipes freeze and burst?
As we mentioned before, temperatures below freezing can cause the water inside the pipes to start to freeze. That means whenever the temperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit you run the risk of your water turning to ice in the pipes. This is especially true if you haven’t properly insulated or protected your pipes.
Water expands as it freezes, and this causes pressure between the ice and the other end (usually a faucet). This pressure can cause bursting, or splitting open, but even if it only causes a hairline crack, it’s a problem. Once the ice melts and it is no longer plugging up the hole, you will have leaking, which in many cases means water damage on top of plumbing repairs. Not fun!
Additionally, pipes freezing can be caused by “wind chill,” which takes place when cold air passes over a warmer surface. To prevent wind chill you will need to keep out moving air as much as possible.
This brings us to our next question.
How do you prevent pipes from freezing?
Block drafts to prevent wind chill
In the severe cold, even a very small opening can allow enough cold air through to cause the pipes to freeze. This means it is very important to find and block or close all openings, regardless of how tiny they may be. Do not, however, try to completely seal in your skirting. This more permanent process can trap moisture once the weather warms up again and can cause mold.
Try using cardboard on the inside of the skirting as an inexpensive way of blocking out drafts.
The most obvious way of protecting your pipes from freezing in the cold temperatures is to use foam pipe insulation. It’s inexpensive and easy to install, and you can find it at any local hardware store.
Be sure to measure ahead of time so that you know you are getting the right thing!
In cases of extreme cold, wrap pipes in heat tape
Although the foam pipe insulation is helpful, it may not be quite enough to prevent your pipes from freezing if you are in an area that has long cold spells, and really deep, low temperatures.
Depending on just how cold your area tends to get, it might be a good idea to consider heat tape for the pipes. However, keep in mind that this comes with additional safety risks, as it can catch fire if not installed properly. Make sure you check the manufacturer’s specifications. Additionally, try researching some online guides to installing heat tape.
If the pipes were previously wrapped in heat tape, you should thoroughly check to make sure it still works and replace anything that is loose or worn. Remember to never overlap heat tape as this can cause fire.
It’s your responsibility to winterize mobile home plumbing in your park
As the owner, it falls to you to winterize the mobile home plumbing in your park. This and other responsibilities go along with the job, and it’s good to have a handle on what will be expected from you. If you are new to the business, or are thinking of buying a park, then take a moment to look at our overview of mobile home park owners’ responsibilities and expectations.