As temperatures start to drop, many homeowners take steps to prepare their fireplaces and better insulate their homes. However, while you’re getting ready for winter, don’t forget the plumbing. Freezing temperatures are bad news for plumbing pipes, as the water inside pipes will expand as it freezes. This can lead to leaks, burst pipes, and other damage. Taking the time to prepare your plumbing for winter will help keep your home safe from costly water damage.
Prepare Your Plumbing for Winter by Insulating the Pipes
If you have exposed pipes in unheated areas of your home, like the attic or garage, make sure they are protected from freezing temperatures. Install a heat cable along the length of the pipe and add foam insulation to trap the heat.
Make sure you know what materials your pipes are made out of when you are purchasing insulation, as there are different recommendations for copper, PVC, and cast-iron pipes.
Turn Off Outdoor Faucets to Prepare Your Plumbing for Winter
As you prepare your plumbing for winter, turn off outdoor faucets and disconnect the garden hose. Shut off the water and open the faucet completely to allow any water still sitting in the pipe or hose to drain out. If you don’t remove the water, the pipe could freeze and crack or burst.
Shut Off the Water When You Hit the Road
If you will be traveling this winter, shut off the main water line when you leave home. This will prevent damage that could occur if your pipes freeze and burst while you are gone.
As a rule of thumb, it’s good to shut off your water main when you will be gone for longer than 48 hours. When you’re away from your home, keep your thermostat set no lower than 55 degrees to help prevent damage from cold temperatures.
Check Your Water Heater
Protecting pipes is one of the most important ways you can prepare your plumbing for winter, but also check the water heater. Water heaters accumulate sediment over time, which can lead to decreased hot water output and other issues with the appliance. Scheduling a tune-up for your water heater before temperatures drop is a great way to make sure you have plenty of hot water on chilly mornings.
When Temperatures Drop
If temperatures become extremely frigid outside, take additional action to protect your plumbing. Open the cabinet doors beneath the sinks and any other cabinets that contain pipes. This allows warm air from your home to circulate around the plumbing. Turn your faucets on to allow the taps to slowly drip. It’s much harder for moving water to freeze, so keeping your faucets on can prevent pipe damage.