As the days grow shorter and the temperature outside steadily declines, you may find yourself reaching for the thermostat more often to keep your home comfortable. But have you given any thought to your plumbing?
Just like your body, your plumbing needs a little TLC in order to stay healthy during the winter months. Follow these simple tips, and you can rest easy knowing that your home's plumbing is well taken care of.
Why Winterizing Your Plumbing Is Important
Pipes that aren't properly winterized can burst during cold weather, leading to expensive repairs and a lot of headache. You don't want to be faced with a broken pipe in the dead of winter, so it's important to take some preventative steps now.
Here are a few tips on how to winterize your home's plumbing:
1. Shut off the water supply to your home. This can be done by turning off the main water valve, which is usually located in the basement or near the water meter.
2. Drain all the water from your pipes. You can do this by turning on all the faucets in your home and letting them run until the water is no longer flowing.
3. Disconnect any hoses from your outdoor taps and store them inside. If you don't do this, water can still flow through the hoses and into your home while they're disconnected, leading to freezing and even more damage.
4. Inspect your pipes and insulation for any damage or wear and tear. If you find any problems, have them fixed before the cold weather hits.
Tips for Keeping Pipes From Freezing
If you want to keep your home's plumbing from freezing this winter, start by following these tips:
1. Open the cabinet doors under your kitchen and bathroom sinks to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.
2. Let the water trickle from your faucets (the colder it is outside, the more water you'll need to trickle).
3. If you're going to be away from home for an extended period of time, turn off the water supply at the main valve.
4. If you experience a plumbing emergency while you're away, have a friend or neighbor check on your property and call a plumber if necessary.
Steps for Winterizing Exterior Faucets and Hoses
You should disconnect all exterior hoses and faucets. This includes the garden hose, any hoses that are attached to the outside of your house, and the spigots that are used to water your lawn. Shut off the water valve that supplies these faucets, and then open the taps to release any pressure that may be in the lines.
If you have a garden hose that doesn't have a shut-off valve, you can either coil it up and store it in a sheltered area, or you can fill it with water and freeze it. This will take care of the water in the hose and will also help to keep the hose from expanding and developing cracks when it freezes.
How to Inspect and Seal Gaps Around Doors and Windows
If you haven't already, be sure to inspect the seal around your doors and windows. If you feel a draft coming through, then you know there's likely air infiltration occurring. This can actually lead to frozen pipes as the warm air infiltrating your home is greatly reduced when temperatures drop below freezing.
To address this issue, you should use caulk and expanding foam insulation to fill any gaps or cracks around the door frame or window frame. Be sure to apply the caulk or foam generously, so that it seals itself against the weather stripping and forms an air-tight barrier.
You may also want to consider adding weather stripping around these areas as well, which will help prevent any air from getting in. You can get it pre-cut at most hardware stores so it fits perfectly around your doors and windows. In addition, make sure that you check for any tears or rips in your door and window screens each winter as well.
Preparing Hot Water Pipes for Winter
Now let’s talk about the hot water pipes in your home. These need to be winterized too, as cold weather can cause pipes to crack or burst when water freezes inside them.
The main way to winterize your hot water pipes is to make sure they are properly insulated with insulation tape or pre-slit foam wrap. This will retain heat and prevent freezing. You may also want to invest in an electric pipe heating cable, which is a great way to keep these pipes warm, as it acts like a low-voltage heater and wraps around the outside of the pipe.
If you have an outdoor spigot, be sure to disconnect all hoses from it and store these away in the garage or basement. You want to make sure no remaining water can get frozen inside the spigot, which could cause damage. Finally, be sure to open any valves inside your house near exposed piping, allowing warmer air into these areas when possible.
Preparing Water Heating Systems for Winter
Winterizing your home’s plumbing can also mean preparing your water heating systems for the cold temperatures. First, inspect the water heater for signs of rust and problems. If there are any issues, consider having a professional come out to take a look at it.
Second, insulate the pipes leading into and out of the heater to prevent freezing or other issues that could occur due to extreme temperatures. Be sure to use high-grade insulation and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper installation.
Lastly, check that your water heater is draining correctly—this will prevent any build-up of sediment or corrosion from occurring during the winter months. If there’s any clogs or blockages, be sure to contact a professional who can help clear it up before permanent damage happens. Taking these simple steps will help ensure your water heating system is ready for winter and all its weather-related challenges!