The cold winter months can cause all kinds of plumbing problems. Some are easily fixable, but others can be downright catastrophic and costly to repair. The best way to prevent winter plumbing disasters is to winterize your pipes the best you can and take certain precautions against the freezing temperatures. Here are a few tips to help.
Keep your heater on
Frozen pipes can be a serious problem. Ice can expand and cause cracks and ruptures that lead to serious leaks or floods once they thaw. One of the best ways to make sure indoor pipes stay thawed is by not letting your indoor temps fall below freezing. Some plumbers recommend keeping the thermostat above 50℉ at all times. But according to the US Department of Energy, there is no specific temp that’s right for all homes. They say that problems start to arise when outside temperatures drop below 20℉, but that indoor temps are a matter of personal preference and common sense.
Shut off your outside water
Another common place for pipes to freeze is outdoors. This is because there is usually very little protection from the wind, which makes freezing much easier. Remove and drain your water hoses then shut off all your spigots. It’s also a good idea to cover those spigots and any exposed pipes with insulation or specialty covers made especially for this purpose.
Clean out your drains
With the winter months often comes extra visitors and holiday meals. More people means more usage. And more food means oils and residue that can clog drains. Drains are especially prone to congealing in cold pipes. Avoid pouring greasy liquids down your drain, and pour boiling water down all your drains when you know a big freeze is coming.
If your pipes happen to already be draining slowly, consider using a liquid drain cleaner or a homemade solution to clear up possible clogs. The best homemade solution is a mixture of equal parts baking soda and vinegar. Mix them together in a bowl and pour it immediately down the drain. After an hour or so, you can flush the drain with boiling water. If the clogs prove to be too difficult for home remedies, don’t hesitate to call in someone like Freedom Plumbers to fix your problem.
Leave your faucets dripping
When temperatures are expected to drop way below freezing, leaving your faucets slightly dripping can help prevent damage. This is because moving water doesn’t freeze as easily as still water. If you’re leaving home for more than a day during extremely cold weather, however, it’s best to shut off your water supply entirely.
Open your cabinets
Pipes and hot water heaters concealed behind closet and cabinet doors can’t get the same amount of heat the rest of your home gets. During a cold spell, open up all these doors so that the heat from your home heater has the chance to circulate around your pipes and appliances.
Insulate your indoor plumbing
Exposed indoor pipes are also susceptible to freezing. Some older houses especially have plumbing with exposed pipes in crawl spaces or attics. If this is the case, do what you can to prevent the airflow around them. You can do this by caulking cracks in the wall and floor. You can also use winterizing material to seal doors and windows. And probably the best way to protect them is by wrapping them in insulation. Insulating them not only protects them from harsh temperatures, but it can also conserve energy. This is because it keeps water temps stable so the hot water heater doesn’t have to work overtime to heat it.