Preventing Winter Plumbing Problems

Preventing Winter Plumbing Problems

Nothing ruins the comfort of being bundled up in your warm home during a cold winter like a burst pipe. Cold weather can cause water to freeze and expand breaking a pipe, this is the most common reason for a broken pipe. Taking some preventive steps to protect your pipes can save you from costly damage to your home. Make sure your home’s plumbing is ready for the next big cold snap with our tips for cold piping preparedness.

Indoor Plumbing

Keep Your Home Warm

If you’re in the habit of turning off the heat when the family goes off to work and school for the day, consider keeping it running instead. Leaving your thermostat at your normal living temperature is a good first step to preventing indoor plumbing repairs due to cold.

Open Cabinets

Many cabinets under sinks or in a laundry room have exposed pipes inside. These cabinets can get surprisingly cold when left shut, but simply leaving the doors open ensures the warm air from the rest of your house can keep these pipes warm.

Let Faucets Drips

Perhaps the best known tip for avoiding frozen pipes is to set all your faucets to a slow but steady drip when the temperature drops. While the idea of wasting this bit of water may feel bad, if you measure it out, the drips add up to a lot less than you probably think – and certainly much less than repairing a broken pipe.

Run Appliances Overnight

It’s not quite as simple to apply the dripping faucet technique to larger appliances like dishwashers and washing machines, but the same principle applies. At night when the cold weather is at its worst, keeping them running can keep them thawed. There’s no need for it to be all waste, either; just set up a load of dishes or clothes right before you go to sleep!

Check Insulation and Weather Sealing

Leaky windows and drafty doors are an expensive problem for climate control any time of year, so double checking you’re as sealed up as you should be is good advice for more than just keeping pipes warm. Pay special attention to your garage, attic, and any crawlspaces where pipes run through, as they’re easy to forget but just as susceptible to bursting as any other pipe.

Turn Off Water Before Taking a Trip

If you’re planning a multiple-day vacation at any point in the winter holidays, shut your water off at the primary shutoff valve before you leave. A burst pipe can be even worse when you only discover it days later, so clearing your home of water entirely is a great safety measure. Remember to turn off any automatic icemakers after shutting off your water or they could burn themselves out.

Outdoor Plumbing

Disconnect Hoses

Any water still in a garden hose can and will freeze when temperatures drop. This expanding ice can back up into your pipes and cause problems. Disconnect all hoses from the faucet to nip this problem in the bud.

Insulate Outdoor Pipes

Wrapping outdoor pipes with some kind of insulation can go a long way to preventing freezes. Purpose-built heating tape is best for the purpose and available at your local hardware store, but it can be a bit expensive. Even something like extra rags or trash bags is a lot better than nothing.

Block Outdoor Vents

Vents are a primary way to let freezing cold air get a lot deeper into your home than it needs to be. Covering vents, even with something as simple as Styrofoam blocks, will protect any pipes in their vicinity.

Protecting your plumbing from cold temperatures is not difficult or time consuming. Just a quick pass through your home with some easy preventative measures will go a long way to saving you the costly headache of burst pipes and necessary repairs.

Josie Smith
Josie Smith
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