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Q: It’s mid-September and the temperatures are still in the 80’s. I haven’t even bought my Halloween candy yet. Do I really need to start thinking about getting my house ready for winter?

A. While our winters aren’t nearly as severe as the ones I grew up with in Iowa, it is West Texas. Which means we lead the nation in unpredictable weather. About a year ago we had 91 degrees on a Tuesday and 19 degrees less than 36 hours later. Temperature spirals like that will take you, and your plumbing, by surprise.

To answer your question, it’s not too early to begin winterizing your plumbing. Here’s some tips to help you know what to look for:

* Disconnect your outside water hoses. Think of it as a potential chain reaction. If the water in the hose freezes, it will expand. That expansion will push back into your interior pipes, causing your connection pipes to burst.

* Insulate your exposed exterior pipes. Water pipes in sheds and unheated garages should be wrapped with insulation. You can also wrap them with heat tape.

* Look for dripping or leaking faucets and make repairs. Don’t make the mistake of thinking, “It’s just a slow drip. It won’t be a problem.” If the pipe freezes it’s guaranteed that the pressure will build. Pressure will find the weak spots in the pipe regardless of what it’s made of. A broken pipe will cause damage to your home.

* Clean your gutters. We tend not to think about our gutters during the cold months yet there will be warm days where snow will be melting. Clean gutters mean proper drainage that directs the water away from your house.

* Seal up the leaks. We’re not talking water here. We’re talking air. Part of winterizing means sealing up those windows and doors. It’s estimated that up to 30% of a homes energy escapes through doors and windows. You wouldn’t dream of leaving a window half open in the middle of winter. Yet add up all the small cracks and crevices around your home and the energy loss is the same. Use weather strip, caulk or expanding foam sealers depending on the application.

* If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, consider shutting off the main water line. Some families travel for a couple weeks at Christmas. If you’re worried about potential freezes while you’re away, shut off the main water line and open the faucets at the highest and lowest points in the home to drain the lines.

The experts at Sinclair are here to help you transition into the fall and winter season. Give them a call at 806-749-COOL (2665

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