Cold winter weather can be rough on pipes and other parts of your plumbing system. There’s nothing more frustrating than dealing with blocked drains, a broken hot water heater, or leaky pipes in the dead of winter.
Fortunately, there are several simple things you can do to get your plumbing system ready for the cold weather. These preventative measures can significantly lower the risk of plumbing problems. If you do end up with frozen pipes or other plumbing issues, you can always get prompt emergency service from the Johns Plumbing team.
1. Locate the Water Main Valve
It’s vital to know exactly where your home’s water main valve is and how to turn it off. Quickly turning off the water flow can prevent a burst pipe from causing flooding and water damage.
It’s also a good idea to shut off the water line before leaving your home for a trip. Once you turn the valve to the “off” position, drain the remaining water out of the pipes by turning on all the faucets and letting the water run until the pipes are empty.
2. Protect Your Indoor Pipes
When the pipes in your home get too told, the water can freeze, expand, and break the pipes. Sometimes you may not notice small cracks in your pipes until the water thaws and starts running through the pipes and leaking everywhere. A big crack in a pipe can release a lot of water very quickly, flooding parts of your home.
There are several ways to prevent your indoor plumbing from freezing:
- Find any cabinets with water pipes in them and leave the doors open during cold weather to keep the space warmer
- Regularly check all your pipes for cracks or weak points. Fix any damaged areas right away.
- Keep your garage doors closed to trap head inside
- Open your faucets slightly (look for a trickle of water) on extremely cold nights to keep the water running so it doesn’t freeze. You can catch the water in a bucket so it doesn’t go to waste.
- Remove the bottom panel of your dishwasher to allow more heat to reach its water line.
These steps can prevent frozen pipes and keep your home safe from water leaks.
3. Prepare Your Outdoor Pipes for Cold Weather
It’s also essential to make sure your outdoor pipes and spigots are winterized. Insulate any exposed outdoor pipes leading from the water main to your house, including at the entry points.
Before the weather turns cold, make sure to turn off your outdoor spigots and remove any hoses that are connected to them. Drain the remaining water out of the hoses, coil them, and store them indoors during the winter. Wrap some towels or heating tape around the spigots to keep them warmer on very cold days or nights. You can also find frost-proof spigot covers.
4. Add Some Insulation
In many homes, water pipes run through uninsulated crawlspaces, unfinished basements, or attics. These spaces can get extremely cold during the winter, which leads to frozen, cracked pipes.
Adding insulation can help prevent this issue. Insulating the crawlspace or attic can be a good DIY project, and it can help lower the strain on your furnace during winter. If you don’t want to commit to such a big renovation, you can also insulate the pipes themselves with specially designed foam sheaths. If you aren’t sure of the best way to insulate your pipes, ask an experienced plumber.
5. Get Your Water Heater Checked
Fall is a great time to check on your water heater and make sure it’s in good shape for the upcoming winter. Draining the water heater can help flush out any built-up sediment, and it’s a great way to check whether there’s rust in the tank.
If the water draining from your tank is discolored, chances are there’s some rust. It might be time for a replacement. This is a good chance to consider switching to a tankless water heater or upgrading to a more energy-efficient tank model.
6. Program Your Thermostat
Setting your thermostat a little lower in the winter can reduce your utility bills and save energy. This is a great step for your wallet and the environment, but it’s not ideal for your pipes. Keeping your home’s temperature too cool can increase the risk of your pipes freezing.
It’s best to keep the temperature no lower than 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Resist the temptation to lower your thermostat below this temperature even when you go out of town. The last thing you want is to return to a home with broken pipes and water damage.
Trust Johns Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning for All Your Plumbing Needs
Even the best preventative maintenance can’t always stop a plumbing emergency from happening. If you have leaky pipes or a broken water heater, call the team of experts at Johns. We service homes and businesses throughout the entire Piedmont Triad, including Greensboro, Summerfield, Kernersville, Burlington, and the surrounding area.