How to prepare your plumbing system to prevent freezing pipes and other common cold weather plumbing problems
Winter Plumbing Tips
When it comes to plumbing, there are certain ‘cold weather’ preventative measures that will help maintain a healthy, efficient water system and avoid excess water loss and excessive bills. In addition to the harsh winter weather, the holiday season adds extra stress to your plumbing system due to increased activity from guests. In fact, the day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day of the year for plumbers.
Turn off outside water valves to prevent frozen pipes
When the temperature drops below freezing, water pipes in your home have the potential to rupture, creating an expensive disaster in your home’s basement. The average homeowner’s expense for a pipe rupture is about $15,000, according to State Farm Insurance.
To protect against frozen pipes, turn off all outside water valves, remove garden hoses and then look for pipes in un-insulated areas of the home, such as those running along the home’s outer walls. These pipes are the most likely to freeze and should be wrapped with foam or towels for the season. In cases of extreme cold, it’s a good idea to let faucets drip slowly in order to encourage water flow.
Know the location of your home’s main water valve
In case of a major incident – such as a pipe bursting – when you might need to immediately shut off all the water in the home, it’s critical to know where the main water valve is located. This valve is usually located next to the water meter and should be kept in good condition. To maintain your home’s main water valve and keep it in working order, open and close it once a year.
Prepare outside drainage
Winterizing your lawn can help improve drainage from snow and rain. Removing debris from your yard to ensure your gutters and downspouts are clear before the winter will improve their ability to drain runoff.
Consider installing insulation
Preventing frozen pipes can be as simple as a little planning and installing foam insulation. Insulating foam sheaths are sold at most hardware stores in a variety of sizes and are easy to install. Make sure to insulate the entire length of pipe from the point where your home’s main water line emerges from the ground to the point where it enters the heated space of your home. You should also insulate any pipes that are outside the heated portion of your home, like those in attics, unheated basements and outdoor hose bibbs. If pipe insulation is not a DIY job for your home, call a licensed plumber.