It’s the most wonderful time of the year — until your pipes freeze, crack, and soak your carpets, that is.
There’s a lot that can go wrong with your plumbing during the winter months. Unless you want to pay for potentially costly plumbing repairs, it’s important to take steps to prepare your pipes so they can withstand the cold.
Listed below are ten great plumbing tips that will help you make sure your plumbing system is ready for winter.
Common Winter Plumbing Issues
The following are some of the most common plumbing issues people experience during the winter months:
When the weather gets cold, any part of your plumbing system can freeze. If the freezing goes unnoticed, the pipes could end up bursting and causing damage to your home or its foundation.
Water Heater Failures
In the winter, your water heater must work a lot harder to keep your water nice and toasty. Since it’s working harder, it may be more likely to shut down just when you need it most.
Burst Septic Tank
Sometimes, when the weather is cold, the line that goes from your home to your septic tank can freeze. The tank itself can also burst altogether.
Clogged drains can occur at any time of the year. But, they’re especially common in the winter when people have visitors come to stay with them and the pressure on their plumbing systems increase.
Leaking Water Lines
A frozen water line could lead to leaks and flooding, which can cause serious damage to your home and/or its foundation. If you do experience a leaking water line, a plumber’s services are almost always required to fix it.
Top 10 Ways to Winterize Your Plumbing
If you want to avoid these common winter plumbing issues, be sure to keep these ten tips in mind:
- Turn Off and Drain Your Outdoor Faucets
- Disconnect Your Hoses
- Use a Wi-Fi Thermostat
- Install Heat Cables
- Turn Off the Water Before You Leave Town
- Clean Out Your Rain Gutters
- Open Your Kitchen Cabinets During Cold Snaps
- Insulate Your Garage Door
- Insulate Your Pipes
- Warm Up Your Pipes Gradually
One of the most important things you can do to protect your plumbing system from winter damage is turn off all your outdoor water faucets.
Open them up, then open the bleeder cap located on the shutoff valve. This will drain any excess water out of the pipe.
Don’t forget to drain the pipe. Otherwise, the pipe could freeze and crack. Keep the bleeder cap open and place a bucket underneath it to catch any excess water that might drip out.
If a hose filled with water is left out in the cold, it could freeze. What’s wrong with that?
Well, if that hose is connected to your faucet, the ice could back up the pipe into your house. This, in turn, can cause the pipe to crack.
When you’re turning off and draining your outdoor faucets, be sure to also disconnect and drain the hoses before storing them away for the winter.
Sometimes, cold weather seems to come out of nowhere. If you’re not paying attention to the weather report, you could find yourself scrambling to try and winter-proof your plumbing system before anything freezes.
Using a Wi-Fi thermostat gives you more control over your home’s temperature.
You can also monitor the weather and keep track of any sudden drops in temperature. If you’re alerted to the temperature changes, you can act more quickly to prevent freezing or other issues.
Heat cables feature integral thermostats that sense changes in pipe temperature. Then they turn the heat on or off as needed to help you pipes maintain a stable and safe temperature.
Heat cables are relatively inexpensive and can be a great solution to winter plumbing issues. They’re especially useful for people who live in homes with older plumbing systems.
If you’re going to be out of town for more than a few days (or if you’re leaving town when you know a cold snap is coming), turn your water off before you go.
That way, if a pipe freezes and cracks, you’ll come home to significantly less damage.
If your rain gutters and downspouts are clogged with leaves, tree branches, and debris, they won’t be able to drain properly when rain and snow arrive. This can lead to leaks and flooding inside your house.
Clean out your rain gutters and downspouts early in the winter so that excess water can run easily through them.
Even when the heat is on in your house, the pipes underneath your kitchen cabinets don’t get as much warmth as they ought to. This increases the likelihood that they will freeze.
Open up the doors when the temperature drops so that the heat can reach them. You can also use a portable heater or a fan to help circulate the warm air better.
Do you have water lines in your garage? If so, then you should insulate your garage door (and maybe even your whole garage). This will help prevent freezing and leaks in your water line.
On unusually cold days, you might also want to put a portable heater in your garage, too.
Pipes often freeze in unheated areas like attics, garages, and crawl spaces. To avoid this, spend some time insulating your pipes to keep the cold air out.
There are lots of different types of pipe insulation you can use to keep these pipes warm, and they’re all very affordable. Pipe insulation can also help keep your energy costs down, so it’s a win-win.
If your pipes do freeze, don’t panic.
Use a heat lamp or hair dryer on a low setting to gradually heat up the pipes. Be sure to distribute the heat evenly across the whole pipe’s surface.
Never use a blow torch or open flame to do this. It can cause the pipes to thaw too fast. This, in turn, can cause them to burst.
Need Help Preparing Your Plumbing System
It’s true that your plumbing system can undergo a lot of stress when the weather outside is frightful. But, winter plumbing damage is not inevitable.
Keep these ten winter plumbing tips in mind, and you’ll have no trouble preventing flooding and other damages when winter arrives.
Need help winter-proofing your plumbing system? If so, we can help at Millwood Plumbing. Contact us today by phone or online to request plumbing services.