As the temperatures drop and cold weather sets in, take time to prepare the plumbing for freezing weather. You can avoid costly repairs and water damage in just a few simple steps. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Drain the Water Heater
One DIY task you can complete to maintain your plumbing is to drain the water heater. Over time, sediment builds up in the bottom of the tank, making it less efficient and more likely to fail. Draining the tank removes this sediment, boosts efficiency, and prolongs the life of your water heater. Drain the appliance at least once a year, or hire a professional to handle the task.
2. Insulate Your Pipes to Prepare the Plumbing for Freezing Weather
Prepare your plumbing for winter by insulating your pipes. Pipe insulation is essential if you live in an area where temperatures regularly dip below freezing. When water freezes, it expands, which can cause the pipes to burst.
To avoid this, wrap exposed pipes in insulation purchased from your local hardware store. If you live in a frigid climate, consider heat tape. This material is applied to pipes and provides low-level warmth to prevent them from freezing. A small investment could save you thousands of dollars in repairs when the temperatures drop.
3. Check for Leaks
Regularly check for leaks in your plumbing system. Even a small leak will waste water and drive up monthly utility bills. Fortunately, most leaks are relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. Tighten the pipe connections, replace the O-ring in a dripping faucet, or replace the flapper ball in a leaking toilet.
4. Prepare the Plumbing for Freezing Weather: Disconnect Outdoor Hoses
If you have an outdoor faucet, disconnect the garden hose before the first frost hits. Water left in the hose can freeze and expand, causing the hose to burst or the faucet to crack. Once you’ve disconnected the hoses, drain them and store them indoors until spring arrives. After putting away the hose, shut off the water to the outside taps and drain them thoroughly. This will prevent the fixture and its plumbing from being damaged during freezing weather.
Taking a few precautions ahead of time will help you avoid costly repairs and water damage during winter. Start by draining your water heater, insulating your pipes, and checking for leaks – all easy tasks for most homeowners. Store your garden hoses indoors so they won’t freeze and rupture over the winter months. These tips will help prepare your home for winter and minimize plumbing issues when the temperatures drop.