How to Prepare Your Plumbing for Winter

If you live in an area where the temperature gets even close to freezing, there are some important steps to take to protect your pipes heading into winter. Since water expands as it freezes, any ice in your plumbing can cause dangerous backups and cracks. Huge amounts of water could end up in your house, resulting in a stressful mess and expensive repairs. Unfortunately, the chances of your pipes freezing goes up even more if you’re away from your home during the holidays.

To prevent this from happening, we’ve compiled a list of a few things you can do today, and some important things to do before leaving town.

To Do Today:

Insulate your pipes. Especially in areas of the house that aren’t heated, it can be significantly helpful to wrap your pipes. Water lines that run through the garage, attic, and crawl space are usually the most vulnerable to freezing. A professional can install insulation tubes for you as an added layer of protection.

Repair leaks when they happen. A small leak that might not have been an issue all summer can turn into a big problem during the winter months. Fall is a good time to have a professional check your pipes so you can feel confident there aren’t any hidden problems that will only get worse.

Drain all outdoor faucets. Any plumbing that is completely exposed outside is, of course, the most likely to freeze. Since you most likely won’t be watering your garden through the winter, remove your outdoor hoses and store them inside. If possible, shut off the valve to all of your outdoor water supplies. Finally, turn the outside faucets on and let them run until there isn’t anymore water coming out.

Service your furnace. Check to see that filters are clean, and that you have done as much preventive maintenance as possible. If your furnace breaks down in the middle of the winter, you could end up leaving your pipes vulnerable to the cold temperatures for several hours, or even days — and those repair costs can add up fast.

Keep the heat inside. There are some effective ways to seal all your doors and windows, and fix any cracks in your home’s exterior. This will not only keep your heating bill down, but it will also help circulate more heat to your pipes for an extra cozy winter.

Let it drip. If there is a place where a slow drip won’t drive you crazy — believe it or not — leaving a trickle of water running can be a big help on nights when temperatures are expected to drop below freezing. Even if a pipe does freeze, having it open a little bit can prevent it from building up pressure and bursting.

To Do When You Leave:

Keep the heat on. Even if you’re leaving for a month or more, you should not shut off the heat completely. Leave the thermostat to at least 55 degrees to keep the house warm enough for your pipes’ protection.

Drain all your pipes. Purge as much water from your plumbing system as possible. Turn off the main water valve, and run every faucet in the house until they are all dry. Flush the toilets a few times as well. It’s even a wise idea to pour antifreeze in your toilet bowls if you expect some icy-cold temperatures while you’re gone.

Leave doors and cabinets open. Wherever there are exposed pipes inside your home, be sure the heat can reach them. Keep cabinets under sinks and bathroom doors wide open.

Preventive maintenance on your plumbing can save you a lot of money and headaches. The skilled plumbers at Fletcher’s Plumbing and Contracting, Inc. are ready to winterize your pipes so you don’t have to worry about this year’s first freeze. Give us a call today at (530) 673-2489.