Preparing Your Pipes for Winter

frozen copper water pipe

Preparing Your Pipes for Winter’s Bite

With the frigid temperatures of late fall and winter just around the corner, your home could be at risk for plumbing problems. As temperatures dip below freezing, our pipes sometimes freeze and crack, showers put out icy-cold water, radiators break, and indoor flooding becomes more common. But don’t worry, there are many easy things you can do to prevent these winter issues.

Pipe Insulation:

Wrapping pipes with foam padding sleeves or insulating tape can guard pipes from the arctic air. Both hot water and cold water pipes need insulation to prevent freezing and cracking. For pipes that remain exposed, use space heaters to keep the pipes warm, and water flowing. It’s easy to install these heaters and insulation, but to save time and hassle, call a professional.

Even after you, or a plumber, insulate exposed pipes it is very important to check the pipes in basements for frost or cracks. Catching a crack early can prevent big problems later on.

Unclog Drains

At any time during the year, clogged drains can cause leaks and damage to your home’s plumbing system. When Old Man Winter comes knocking, clogs that might otherwise not be an issue become huge freezing risks. Because water expands when it freezes, it is important to keep water flowing freely in the pipes and avoid stagnant water accumulation.

During the fall and winter, create a solution to unclog sink and bathtub drains. The mixture is simple: one cup of salt, one cup of baking soda and one-fourth cup cream of tartar. Pour the powder into the drains and pour boiling water down to rinse the solution through the pipes. About two cups of water is needed in each drain.

Check Outdoor Spigots

Outdoor plants don’t need to be watered frequently during the winter months, and many people forget to take care of their hoses before the cold weather arrives. In the fall, close the shut-off valve on the outdoor spigot and drain water from the hose.

Check for Drafts

Especially in the basement where pipes are more likely to be exposed, check for drafts where frigid air can seep in and freeze the water. It’s easy to forget that hot-water supply pipes freeze just as easily as cold-water pipes – especially when water isn’t flowing through the pipes and the water chills.

If you find a draft in your attic, garage, basement, or in cabinets that become chilly, patch the holes or call a professional to seal those spaces. Keeping the air as warm as possible is one of the only sure-fire ways to prevent pipe freezing and cracking.

What if Your Pipes Freeze?

If you notice your indoor faucets starting to freeze, you still might be able to prevent major damage. Start by opening the cabinets under the faucets and allowing warm air to flow around the pipes. Running small amounts of water from the valves also can keep things moving. Use a slow trickle to keep water costs low.

If a pipe freezes it is important to turn off the water supply quickly. Open the faucets connected to the frozen pipes to allow the water a place to escape and begin warming the pipes.  A hairdryer works great to warm the pipes and thaw the water.

It is a good idea to have a professional plumber examine any pipes that become frozen to check for cracks and hidden damage. Give a call to schedule an appointment. Our team will resolve issues in your home quickly and professionally.


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