When winter approaches, we often concern ourselves with insulating windows and sealing updrafts that allow for heat to escape thus reducing our energy bill. Unfortunately, we often forget to protect our pipes and plumbing leading to all sorts of issues in the winter like burst pipes or frozen lines. This article will give you some tips to winterize your plumbing system and ensure that you will make it through the cold months without the need to call a plumber. The tips are easy, and those that require money spent will account for only a few dollars, making them far cheaper than a repair call.
Pipe insulation is a must and needs to be first on your list. This is essentially foam tube that slips over your pipes under the house or inside the outer walls where they are at risk of freezing and bursting. This tubing is quite inexpensive and easy to install as it is slit longways and fits on the pipe. You can use insulated tape as well as old insulation to protect shutoff or seams where two pieces butt up against each other. It cannot be stressed enough that if you do nothing else, make sure you insulate your pipes.
Knowing the locations of all of your shut off valves will go along way in helping reduce any risk of damage during cold weather. You could shut off all water going to outside spickets and open the valve to drain water remaining in the line. This ensures they will more than likely not burst. It also allows you to turn off a busted pipe without affecting the other water lines in the home that may be functioning properly. Knowing where your shut-offs are for sinks, toilets and outside spickets can save a lot of headaches in the long run.
Allowing faucets that may be affected to slightly drip during cold weather is also a great idea. This may be necessary in the daytime, but in most cases, you will do this in the early evening before the sun sets and let it go until the weather warms up the next day. A slow drip is fine and these faucets will often be those where pipes run under a cold house or along outside walls, like a kitchen sink. These are the most likely to freeze and knowing which to let run will save money on plumbing bills in the end.
Opening cabinet doors to allow the warm internal air to circulate under cabinetry will also keep pipes from freezing. Make sure that any chemicals and cleaning products are stored elsewhere if you have small children running around since they will have access to open cabinets.
Never leave your garden hoses hooked up during cold weather, and walk out the water that may still be in the hose. If water freezes in a hose and you try to hook it up and force water through it, the back pressure will cause something to give. Maybe the hose will loosen and water will simply spray from around the spicket or it could actually bust the water line, so again, unhook your hoses and walk the remaining water out and store in a warm place.
Following these suggestions will go far in reducing the risk of plumbing damage during the winter. Make yourself aware of the shut-offs and insulate your piping. Those two alone will do more for you than anything else suggested and leave you with running water instead of busted pipes.