Winterize Your Plumbing for Cold Weather with These Tips

Read in 6 minutes

Cold weather and plumbing don’t usually go hand in hand. But when it comes to maintaining your home and keeping it running smoothly throughout the colder months, it’s important to take steps before the first snowfall. Here are some tips on how you can winterize your plumbing system for cold weather operations:

Cold weather and plumbing don’t usually go hand in hand. But when it comes to maintaining your home and keeping it running smoothly throughout the colder months, it’s important to take steps before the first snowfall. Here are some tips on how you can winterize your plumbing system for the cold weather operations.

Outdoor Plumbing Winterization Tips

Whether you have an outdoor spigot or a drip system, you need to winterize them to make sure they don’t freeze when the temperature drops. There are a few key steps you can take to make sure your outdoor plumbing doesn’t freeze this season.

  • Disconnect all outdoor hoses. Leaving exterior hoses connected can result in the formation of ice, leading to the accumulation of pressure in indoor water lines and a potential leak or break. People often don't understand that the exterior hoses must be removed and drained prior to washing the vehicle.
  • Drain water lines. Turn off the water supply to outdoor faucets, and open them until they run dry to drain any remaining water.
  • Dress up your exterior faucets. Protect outdoor pipes from freezing temperatures by enclosing them with an outdoor faucet sock.
  • Invest in a good thermostatic spigot or faucet. These spigots and faucets have a built-in thermostat that allows the water to stay at a set temperature so the hose doesn’t freeze. These are especially important for outdoor spigot use.
  • Invest in a good hose bibb. Bibb hoses are a must-have for outdoor use. Bibb hoses are Bibb’s standard 50-foot hose, which has interior taper walls that decrease the amount of water that comes out of the hose. These walls keep the hose from bursting when there’s too much pressure. A bibb hose is a must-have for outdoor use.

Indoor Plumbing Winterization Tips

The winter season is a great time to make sure your indoor plumbing is winterized, as well. Depending on where you live, indoor temperatures can drop below freezing during the winter months, which can cause problems for indoor plumbing.

  • Keep your pipes moving. Turning on the faucet is one of the best plumbing winterization tips. Since moving water will not freeze, open up taps to allow cold water to flow out. When temperatures are low, open taps at night or during a cold snap to allow water to trickle out.
  • Insulate pipes. Pipes that run through exterior walls or uninsulated spaces like the crawl space or attic require an additional layer of protection. Wrap pipes in foam insulation, and apply electrical tape underneath.
  • Keep indoor temperatures warm. If extreme temperatures are in the forecast, don’t let the interior temperature dip below 55 degrees. Change all thermostats on a zoned system to match.
  • Circulate warm air in your home. Allow warm air to reach the pipes by opening cabinet doors beneath kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • Keep all exterior doors closed. To avoid affecting neighboring plumbing by keeping the garage door closed, avoid cold air entering the garage.
  • Seal air leaks. Any small hole or crack can allow enough cold air in to freeze pipes. Check for leaks around doors, windows, exterior wall outlets, switches, electrical wiring, and plumbing. Caulk, weatherstrip, and insulate where necessary to seal leaks.
  • Invest in a good water-seal coating. Water-seal coatings are great at keeping out dirt and debris so they don’t get inside your pipes. They also prevent condensation from forming inside your pipes, which can lead to expensive repairs.
  • Invest in a good condensate trap. A condensate trap is a must-have for indoor plumbing during the winter months. Not only does it prevent condensation from forming inside your pipes, it also prevents pipes from freezing.
  • Invest in a good water filter. During the winter months, you’re likely to be using more water to wash your dishes and clothes. A good water filter is a great way to keep your water bill down while ensuring your pipes are sanitary.

Don’t Forget to Drain Your Pipes!

What are the dangers of failing to drain pipes before freezing this winter? To avoid the following problems, you must perform the following tasks.

  • Water can block up pipes and form ice in a small area, resulting in a blockage and potential pipe damage. If you take action now, you can ensure that this problem doesn't occur, which may save you a lot of money in the long run. If your pipes do burst, water damage and pipe replacement can ensue.
  • The pipes can become significantly enlarged in the winter if frozen water persists in them. Even if the pipes don’t burst, significant damage may be done.

How to Drain Pipes to Prevent Freezing

Before freezing weather arrives, here are the steps you should take to drain pipes:

  • Shut off the water supply to pipes before proceeding. If you're not sure how to shut off the main supply, contact your water service provider or a local licensed plumber.
  • Flush all the toilets in your home until the tank is empty. Then, turn the faucets in sinks, showers, and bathtubs on to drain the water.

Tips to Winterize Your Plumbing

Protecting yourself from costly plumbing emergencies by winter-cleaning your home’s plumbing is easier than you think. Here are three tips for keeping your plumbing nice and healthy during the winter months in Connecticut.

Insulate Pipes

When insulating pipes, especially those that run through uninsulated areas and along exterior walls, you help prevent the surrounding cold temperatures from freezing the water within. You can also insulate pipes without disconnecting them if you use foam pipe insulation sleeves. Buy them and slip them over pipes without disconnecting them. In addition, by insulating pipes, you help prevent the surrounding cold temperatures from freezing the water within, which helps prevent pipes from freezing and damage from resulting.

Seal Air Leaks

It is crucial to block cold outside air from entering indoor pipes when sealing exterior openings or closing crawl space vents and/or access doors and plugging or covering other openings such as gaps around plumbing pipes and electrical conduits’ entrances. It is also necessary to close gaps around access points where pipes and cables enter the house or plug or cover openings that are too big for caulking. In addition to sealing these locations, you can use expanding spray foam insulation in a can to close large gaps. With these winterizing guidelines in mind, you can also protect other areas of your home from cold breezes, which preserve heat and improve energy efficiency throughout the winter.

  • Install weather stripping on windows and doors
  • Caulk around windows and door frames
  • Apply foam gaskets behind outlet covers and switch plates
  • Fire-resistant materials can be used to seal leaks around chimney, furnace, and water heater vents.

Drain and Disconnect Components

Winterizing tips help to preserve your home's plumbing system by keeping exterior plumbing components free of damage from freezing. These precautions help to keep your plumbing in good shape and protect it from damage inflicted by freezing winter weather. By disconnecting hoses from exterior faucets, draining water out, storing it, turning off the water valve to underground sprinklers, draining residual water from the pipes, and draining out remaining water, you can save yourself the trouble of turning the faucet on and off in the future. You can also drain the water from outdoor faucets with dedicated indoor shut-off valves by opening them and turning the faucet on.

Prepare for Winter with HireHandy

Be prepared for winter with the help of HireHandy's plumbing experts! Make sure your plumbing equipment is in good shape before the weather gets cold. Contact HireHandy immediately to schedule an evaluation.

Tips and DIY guides

View more