Is Your Plumbing Ready for the Winter?

‘Tis the season for goodwill, hot drinks, gifts, snow…and if you aren’t careful, frozen pipes. As winter takes hold, it’s time to make sure that your plumbing is ready for the season. Frozen pipes can leak and crack, and even cause a minor flood that can do serious damage to your house. While it’s always a good idea to have a number for your neighborhood plumbing service handy, winterizing the plumbing is an easy do-it-yourself project. Use this little checklist to guide you and then you’ll be ready to celebrate the holidays without a care.

Avoiding frozen pipes
If you’ve never had to deal with this problem, lucky you! Most homeowners have encountered frozen pipes at some time in their lives, and it hasn’t been a fun experience. Frozen pipes can develop leaks and cracks which will need to be fixed. Leaks can waste a lot of water – as many as 10% of all homes have leaks which waste up to 90 gallons of water every day. The costs can add up to around $164 over a year.
Small leaks can develop into bigger ones over time, and cause plumbing emergencies. And in bad cases, frozen pipes can burst and cause a flood and significant water damage to your house. Luckily you don’t need to call a plumbing service to prevent your water pipes from freezing.

Checklist to winterize your plumbing
You can avoid a plumbing emergency by taking a few simple steps to keep the pipes from freezing. Winterizing your plumbing is really a matter of being very thorough, and making sure that all pipes in unheated areas are properly insulated. Remember to disconnect outdoor pipes and spigots, and turn off the water supply altogether if you will be away for a long time. Let’s look at these steps one by one.

  1. Remember to drain and disconnect outdoor hoses and shut off outdoor spigots. If there’s any water left in the pipes, it will freeze when temperatures drop and burst pipes and spigots.

  2. Insulate all the water pipes in unheated areas like basements, attics, garages and crawl spaces. You can find insulating sleeves that fit exactly, or you can improvise with newspaper and foam. Make sure not to leave open uninsulated spaces.

  3. On the coldest days, leave the taps running just a thin trickle. This will keep the running water from freezing. You can also leave the doors open on the cabinets under the sink in the the kitchen and bathroom. This will keep the space warmer and prevent the pipes from freezing.

  4. Keep the house heated to 55F even when no one is home during the day. If you will be away for a long time, most plumbers recommend shutting off the water supply at the main valve.

  5. In spite of all your precautions, accidents can happen. Keep the number for a reliable plumbing service handy, so you can call them if necessary.

Once your plumbing is properly winterized, you can turn your attention to the really important things about the holidays – the fun, ice skating and shopping. The best thing about winterizing your plumbing is that if you do it right the first time, you don’t need to worry about it again. You can just check the insulation at the start of each season, and be sure that you won’t be calling the emergency plumber this winter.

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