The winter season ushers in a lot of good, like breaks from work and more time with family. In the midst of all this, it’s easy to forget about the pipes running through your home. A few good winter plumbing tips will stop pipes that could freeze and burst if not properly cared for.
Leaking pipes and burst water lines are nightmarish products of neglect, sudden cold snaps, or the poor plumbing we got unlucky enough to wind up with. In any case, much of the plumbing horrors often experienced during the colder months are easy to prevent with just a bit of time and effort. If you don’t need sewer repair and you’re not quite ready for drain cleaning, here are a few winter plumbing tips to keep in mind this season.
Start Winterizing From The Outside
The outside of your home is your first defense against cold wind and air, and any exposed pipes carrying water will struggle to ward off dropping temperatures. Turning off water valves that feed to outside faucets will prevent water from entering those outside pipes at all, saving you from backed-up ice weaseling into the pipes inside your home. Insulating the faucets with a bib cover and leaving the valve slightly open will help relieve any pressure within the pipe and keep any residual water moving, making it harder to freeze.
Give Your Water Heater A Seasonal Check-Up
A struggling or failing water heater will lead to cold, unregulated water temperatures that could easily become the cause of a freeze. It’s important to peek at your water heater before winter begins, as any issues with water temperature may go unnoticed during the warmer months and only show themselves when it is too late.
Emptying and re-filling your water heater is an excellent way to clear any sediment or mineral buildup and simultaneously check the tank’s pressure release valve, and its overall cleanliness. With buildups removed, your water heater will run hotter, faster, and more efficiently.
Insulate Exposed Pipes
Any pipes that run along outside walls or even within cold areas, like a garage, should be insulated in some way. Left to fend for themselves, water pipes have little to ward off the cold unless they are wrapped with an insulating material, or better yet, a heating wire and insulating material.
A heating wire is a fast fix to the issue of insulation, available to purchase at most home goods stores. Running this wire along an exposed pipe before wrapping it with fiberglass insulation and a thin layer of plastic will keep your pipes toasty all winter long.
Be Careful With The Kitchen Sink
Interestingly, and somewhat amusingly, plumbers become very busy immediately after Thanksgiving because of the influx of guests and extravagant cooking. Fat and grease, if poured down the drain, will clog pipes and slow water movement, leading to freezes–the fat itself can freeze too, causing a major block.
Avoid this by letting fats and oils cool and solidify, then dump them into the trash. Additionally, running water before and after using your garbage disposal will help ensure your line is clear of any food and debris that could clog and freeze once cold temperatures hit.
Keep Your House Warm
This piece of advice goes for those who may be leaving town for a few days and want to lower the heat while they’re away to save on energy costs. In theory, this is a great idea, but there’s a high risk of returning to burst pipes and a multi-thousand dollar repair bill.
For this reason, keep your thermostat set around fifty degrees–cool enough to save some money but warm enough to stop any freezes. Popping open kitchen cabinets will help keep this warm air moving over plumbing beneath the sink while you’re away, and adding a small heater or fan will keep things even toastier.
Allow Faucets To Drip
Keeping a small trickle going during bitter cold snaps will relieve any built-up pressure within the pipes, especially if freezing does occur. Though this will impact your water bill slightly, the reward of intact pipes and a dry home far outweigh the drawbacks of this preventative measure. Additionally, this will likely only be necessary during bought of extreme cold or during the night, when you know you won’t be using your plumbing for a little while.
That’s it for our winter plumbing tips this time around. If you have any tips yourself, message us and we’ll be sure to add your suggestion right here on this post!