6 Winter Plumbing Tips

Winter is here – and although the temps don’t dip down below freezing all that often, there are times when they do.  Freezing temperatures can be tough on your outdoor AND indoor plumbing, so it’s important to be informed and prepared.  Here are 5 tips to keep your plumbing system safe from freezing temps.

  • Repair Leaks

When water freezes, it expands.  This means frozen water in your pipes can increase the pressure on your pipes and decrease the amount of space between the ice and the closed faucet. The pipe could then rupture under pressure.  However, leaks are a problem no matter the season.  The sooner the problem is addressed, the better. Should the leaky area freeze come winter, there’s a high probability the leak will expand and it will become more costly to repair.

  • It’s Okay to Let Your Faucet Drip

Before you turn in for the evening, if the forecast calls for falling below freezing temps, it’s okay to turn on (to dripping) any water source that sits on an outside wall. This keeps water flowing and reduces the chance of the water freezing because it’s continually moving.  This action may even protect against burst pipes if the water does freeze, because pressure is less likely to build up between the faucet and an ice formation.

  • Open Your Cabinets

Opening cabinets below the sinks in your home will allow any heat in the home to flow in that direction.  This will limit the chances of water in your pipes from freezing. It’s a must-do for cabinets located along an exterior wall.

  • Protect Your Outdoor Faucets

In the case of an outdoor shower or spigot, letting it drip may not help it from freezing.  Instead, remove hoses or other attachments, then turn off the valve that serves that fixture. Go back to the fixture and turn it on to release any remaining water. Next, go back to the main shut-off valve and place a bucket underneath. Open the drain plug and let the remaining water on the inside of the pipe drain out.  Don’t forget to replace drain plug!

  • Insulate Your Pipes

Adding pipe insulation on exposed pipes along exterior walls and outside your home can do a lot to protect your pipes against freezing. Wrap pipes in insulation tubes made from fiberglass or polyethylene to add a layer of protection against freezing. All unheated areas of your home that have pipes would benefit having pipe insulation on the pipes.

  • Drain Your Water Heater

Winter is a great time to have hot water!  However, if your water heater is getting long in the tooth, you’ll want to be sure it will get you through the winter.  In some cases, with older water heaters, sediment can build up. The sediment turns in to rust, which you could end up drinking or cooking with. Draining the water heater can remove some of the sediment and extend the life somewhat.  But if you find that the water coming out is rust colored, consider purchasing a new water heater. Learn more about our winterizing service here and be sure to contact us with any questions you have.  We’re here to help!