Plumbing Tips for Winter

The colder months of the year mean that homeowners must provide some extra TLC to their home’s plumbing equipment. Avoiding a winter disaster, such as flooding due to a burst pipe, is ideal for everyone and a few simple steps can go a long way in preventing an expensive or dangerous accident.

While some tasks should be handled by an experienced plumber, there are plenty of simple steps that the average homeowner can take to ensure smooth sailing during the winter season. The time it takes to complete the following tips are worth it in the long run.

Insulate your pipes

Proper insulation will go a long way in preventing frozen pipes, which could burst and flood your home or yard. Foam insulation designed specifically for pipes can be purchased at any major home-improvement store, and when wrapped around pipes this foam will keep everything warm and cozy even in the coldest months. Make sure to prioritize pipes that are located in less insulated locations, such as crawl spaces or exterior walls.

Keep your pipes flowing

The easiest way to keep your pipes from freezing may surprise you, because all you really need to do is use them! Running water through the faucets in your home at regular intervals throughout the winter will help to keep them free from ice blockages. If you have a rarely-used sink in your home and you worry about remembering to use it periodically, allow a slow drip to continue in that particular sink. The money spent on extra water will be negligible, especially compared with the cost of repairing a frozen pipe that has burst.

Pack away hoses and protect hose bibs

Leaving your outdoor hoses attached to the hose bib (the term for an outdoor spigot) is a recipe for disaster. As the temperature drops, the residual water in the hose can freeze and damage the bib. During winter, your garden hose should be drained, detached, and stored away until spring time. Additionally, covering the exposed hose bib and outdoor pipe with foam insulation will protect them from winter’s harsh weather. No one wants to begin spring with a hose bib repair, so protecting any outdoor spigots will ensure a smooth transition into the warmer months.

Drain your sprinkler system

Another important component of outdoor maintenance is your sprinkler system. Because this system is underground, it is often left forgotten as winter sets in. Make sure to drain any residual water from your sprinkler system in order to avoid frozen pipes or damaged sprinkler heads. If you are unsure of how to drain your system, contact your plumber for assistance.

Take care of your water heater

Regular maintenance on your water heater is essential to its longevity. Ideally, having your water heater inspected prior to the cold months is the best, as the unit will work extra hard for your family during the winter. However, if you, like many homeowners, found yourself too busy with the holidays to schedule your unit’s annual check-up, it’s not too late to call your plumber! After all, a malfunctioning water heater is especially inconvenient in the winter when hot water is a necessity.

Improve your water heater’s functionality

Aside from professional maintenance, you can improve the functionality of your water heater during the winter when it has to work extra hard to supply your home with hot water. If you notice that it has been harder to get your showers as steamy as they once were, you can easily increase the temperature on your water heater.

Be careful, however, not to heat it above 125°F to avoid an accidental burn. Another great way for larger families to optimize their water heater is by spacing out hot showers. A ten-minute interval between showers will provide steady water pressure and the perfect temperature every time.

Keep the house warm

While many people are tempted to save money by allocating the heat to certain rooms, it is actually best to let the warm temperature spread throughout your whole house. Isolating certain rooms from the warmth can lead to frozen or burst pipes. So, while it may seem like a waste of money to heat that room no one ever goes in, the alternative could be a plumbing disaster.

Following these simple tips will protect the plumbing in your house throughout the entire winter, providing the perfect recipe for a warm and happy family.