Did the beautiful weather over the weekend trick you into turning on your outside water too early?
What Minnesotan doesn’t LOVE spring?! As soon as those temps hit above 40 degrees we start seeing shorts and flip flops! Not only do us midwesterners push the open-toed shoes in the spring, but we may push turning on the outside water on our homes also, which can cause a little more damage than just cold toes!
Over the weekend I saw several neighbors washing cars in their driveways and irrigation systems already fired up. With temps reaching almost 80 degrees on Saturday, I also was contemplating if we could be safe this year to turn the outside water on a little early. I have lived in Minneapolis all my life and have always been told to wait until May 1st before turning on outside water to avoid pipes freezing and a potential water damage. Last night the low was 33 degrees in the Twin Cities and we woke up to snow! I had just washed all the kids’ snow pants and jackets thinking they were for surely put away for the season. Ya know what they say in this state, though, “if you don’t like the weather today just wait until tomorrow!” This proved to me that no matter how nice an April may start out, when you live in Minnesota it is safer to be patient and wait!
Most people turn off the outside water in the fall to avoid potential water damage from a pipe freezing and breaking. What some forget to do in the fall is to let whatever water that is still in the pipe drain out by opening the outside faucet after shutting off the water. Why is this important? Water expands when it freezes, and if the pipe leading to the outside is left full of water over the winter, temperatures near the outside wall can sometimes get cold enough to freeze the water. It then expands and can break the pipe. You don’t notice the problem during the winter because you turned off the water source and very little water escapes from the broken pipe. It doesn’t escape until you turn the water back on in the spring. If you realize right away that the pipe is broken, you can quickly turn the water off before much damage is done. You may end up with a bill from a plumber and probably learn from the experience to do things differently in the future.
But here’s what we see happen all too often (Its easy to do, I get it!) – people get caught up in all sorts of outdoor projects on those first nice spring days. They run down to the basement to turn on the water, and then quickly head back outside to rake, fertilize, pull weeds, or whatever. They don’t notice the water escaping into their basements, and sometimes the water ends up running for hours before it gets detected. This is when we come and save the day! No water damage is too small or too big for us to handle. We have seen it all around the entire Minneapolis and Saint Paul areas.
So remember, let’s wait to turn on the water until May 1st. Also, if you can, it is helpful to turn the water on for the first time with a friend or family member. Have one person watching the water lines in the house and the other outside. ALWAYS double check the line to the outside right away to make sure it didn’t break over the winter.
Happy Spring Minnesota!