How to Winter Proof Your Plumbing System

winter proofing your plumbingWith the average high temperature in Boston falling to 36 degrees in January, it’s critical to protect yourself and your home.

Even if you’ve never done so in the past, there are some key steps you can take to winter proof your plumbing system before the next cold cycle hits.

If you’re unsure of how to winter proof your plumbing system, here are five things you can do:

Drain Your Outdoor Faucet

Due to their location in the elements, outdoor water faucets are particularly vulnerable to the cold. So, it’s a must that you take these steps:

  • Close the shut-off valve inside your home
  • Disconnect your hose
  • Drain the faucet of all water

Taking these steps lessens the likelihood of water remaining in your pipe, freezing, expanding, and causing it to burst.

It only takes a couple of minutes to do this, and taking action could save you thousands of dollars in damage to your home.

Insulate Your Pipes

This is an inexpensive way to protect your pipes and valves from extreme cold. Pay close attention to any pipes that are in colder areas of your home, such as your basement, garage, or attic.

Seal any gaps or cracks that allow cold air to reach your pipes, while also eliminating the source of the air (such as an open window).

Tip: open cabinet doors under any sink that is positioned on an outside wall, such as in your kitchen or bathroom. This helps promote warm air circulation around the pipes.[i]

Let Your Faucets Drip

It sounds like a waste of water, but it’s actually a great way to keep your pipes from freezing when the temperature dips below freezing.

Find all the faucets along exterior walls in your home and turn them on to create a slight, yet steady drip.[ii]

This eliminates any pressure between the faucet and ice, thus reducing the risk of the pipe bursting.

Run Water Regularly

When was the last time you turned on the water in your basement sink? Do you remember the last time you took a shower or flushed the toilet in the guest bathroom?

It’s possible there are pipes and water valves in your home that you only use every now and again. While it’s okay to ignore these during the warm summer months, don’t make this mistake over the winter.

Running water through every valve helps prevent freezing, so make it a habit to regularly do this.

Protect Your Water Heater

Freeze damage can occur if standing water inside your water heater turns to ice. As the water expands and contracts, as a result of the freezing, it can damage the internal components while increasing the risk of a leak.

Here are some tips to protect against this:

  • Insulate the pipes leading to your water heater
  • Check the area around your water heater for cold air leaks, such as foundation cracks and windows
  • Maintain a reliable power source
  • With the gas off to the heater, run a steady flow of water through it overnight

Today’s water heaters are designed to avoid freezing, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Do you have questions or concerns about winter proofing your plumbing system? If so, read our two-part series for more tips and advice (part 1, part 2).

And of course, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule an appointment. We can pinpoint potential problems before they turn into something much more serious!

Sources:

[i] https://todayshomeowner.com/video/how-to-insulate-water-pipes-to-prevent-freezing/
[ii] https://www.consumerreports.org/home-maintenance-repairs/how-to-keep-pipes-from-freezing/