Winter Plumbing Tips: Preparation Guide

RTM Design • Dec 21, 2021

As winter nears, many families prepare for holiday gatherings, winter vacations, shoveling snow, and the inevitable cold weather. If you’re a homeowner, preparing your plumbing should be part of your to-do list. These practical winter plumbing tips by the expert plumbers from Trust 1 Services can help you avoid plumbing problems, costly repair bills, or disruptions to your water supply this winter.

Why Do I Need To Prepare for the Winter?

As the seasons change each year, the rise and fall of the temperatures cause any metal exposed to these fluctuations to expand and contract. The alternating heat and cold put stress on the metal until it cracks, causing a leak. Depending on the placement of the leak, the result could range from a nuisance to a catastrophe, including:

  • warped or rotten floorboards
  • mold growth
  • loss of water pressure
  • damage to cabinets or vanities.
  • higher water bills

If a pipe bursts while you’re at home, you can shut off the water supply to the house and call a plumber to fix the problem. If you live in the Quincy, MA, area, Trust 1 Services is ready to help with any plumbing problem, large or small.

Imagine what would happen if a pipe were to burst while you were away on vacation or visiting family. The leak might seep into drywall and hardwood, damage furniture, and dissolve cardboard boxes containing irreplaceable records or family heirlooms.

Don’t let procrastination cost you dearly this winter. Take advantage of these winter plumbing tips and safeguard your home and possessions this holiday season.

Check for Pipe Corrosion and Damage

A pipe will often burst at its weakest point. Check all your pipes for discoloration or bulging. Do not use chemical drain cleaners to break up clogs because they can damage your pipes. Use a snake or plunger instead.

Add Insulation to Any Pipes That Are at Risk for Freezing

If you have water pipes running to an unheated shed or garage, make sure those pipes have protection from the cold. If you know you will not use that unheated space for the winter, disconnect its water supply until the weather warms up.

Insulate the Rooms That Have Pipes in Them

If old windows or poor insulation causes your bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room to become cold and drafty, your risk for burst pipes will increase. Installing insulated windows and fixing any gaps in each room’s insulation will keep the lines running. Leave the cabinets that contain pipes open so that warm air from the rest of the room can circulate, keeping the pipes warm.

Prevent Outdoor Faucets From Chilling Your Pipes

Your house and the water pipes inside it will stay warmer if the inside is well-insulated against the cold. Any pipes that carry water to the outside can just as easily let the cold in. If a pipe is even partially full of water, for instance, and is not protected or drained, it can drain heat from the home and counteract your heating system’s efforts to warm the air.

Disconnect external garden hoses and shut off the water to outside faucets during the winter months for additional protection against a burst pipe.

Prepare Your Water Heater for Winter

Make sure that the water temperature is no hotter than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. People coming in from the cold with numbed or aching hands and feet might be tempted to warm them up with hot water. The cold can prevent us from recognizing how hot the water is until it burns us. Keeping the water temperature low saves money on heating costs and extends the life of the water heater.

If you plan to leave the house unoccupied, have a qualified technician drain the water heater. With the water heater empty, you won’t have to waste energy heating it, and you will reduce the risk of sediment collecting in the water heater if left idle for a long time.

If You’ll Be Gone for a While, Shut Off the Water Supply

Your water pipes won’t burst if there is no water in them. Cutting off the water supply as it enters the house effectively protects your water lines from the cold. Keep in mind that empty pipes will still contract in the cold, so check for leaks before you turn the water back on.

Let a Faucet Drip Slowly

A faucet dripping warm water draws heat from the water heater through the pipes, which can keep them above freezing even if the rest of the house gets cold.

Have Someone Check on Your Home While You’re Away

If you go on a winter vacation and do not disconnect your water supply, have someone visit your home every few days to check the water pressure and look for water damage.

Maintain Your Heating System

A common cause of burst pipes stems from the failure of the heating system. Having a certified heating technician inspect your heating system reduces the risk that you will lose heat while you spend time away for the winter holidays. Check for any clogged vents, replace the air filter, and look for signs of soot near heating vents. Turn the temperature down on the thermostat to about 60 degrees to reduce stress on the heater.

These winter plumbing tips will prevent frozen pipes, burst pipes, and leaks, protecting you from property damage and the expense of repairs. Some of them only take a moment. The time and energy you invest now will bring you peace of mind throughout the winter months.

What if My Pipes Burst Anyway?

Even if you follow every one of these winter plumbing tips, accidents do occasionally happen. If a pipe bursts, turn off the water immediately, mop up water from any affected areas, and allow wet surfaces to dry thoroughly. Then, call a water damage specialist to inspect the damage.

It is important to tend to burst pipes quickly. Damp areas can breed mold and other disease-causing organisms. If you live in the Quincy, MA, area, call (617) 468-7649 to speak with a professional representative of Trust 1 Services about our Quincy, MA, frozen pipes service.

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