Every year, it seems like the cold weather sneaks up on us out of nowhere. One minute we’re enjoying the autumnal sunshine and the next we’re looking up the price of a flight to the tropics to escape the suddenly frigid temps. As winter rolls in, it’s important to know the essentials when it comes to winter-proofing your water system.
Prepare Your Outdoor Plumbing
Your first line of defense to protect your home inside is to prepare adequately outside. With water being the fascinating compound it is, it has secret special abilities like expanding when it freezes. While this is great news for lovers of snow cones and sweet tea, it can spell disaster for your outdoor hoses and faucets.
Drain Your Hoses
- Before that first true cold front hits, disconnect all of your hoses, hosepipes, and sprinkler systems and turn off your outdoor water faucets. It’s a quick way to save yourself a world of headache that comes from a pipe burst.
- Turn off and drain all sprinklers and irrigation systems in your yard. (We won’t be needing those in the wintertime.)
Make Necessary Updates
- Shut off all of your outdoor faucets. The less opportunity you give your pipes to burst the less likely they will be to ruin your life!
- Install frost-free sill cocks to protect your outdoor pipes from the frost.
- Put insulated covers on your hose bibs to prevent the chill from creeping inside from an exposed pipe.
Protect Your Pipes
Get our mind out of the gutter, we’ll get to those later! Your pipes freezing in the cold weather can cause big headaches, but it doesn’t have to. There are steps you can take to prevent your pipes from freezing and keep yourself from dealing with an unplanned ice rink in your basement.
Before Temperatures Drop:
- Fix drafty windows, doors, and drafty areas of your house that might let the cold air inside. You can also save a few bucks on your heating bill with these DIY adjustments.
- Learn how to shut off your water. It may sound like a no brainer, but in the stressful seconds after a pipe burst, it’s easier than you think for common sense to go down the drain.
- Insulate your pipes in cold places such as the basement, under the sink, etc.
After The Big Freeze
- Keep cabinet doors open to allow more effective airflow to reach pipes under sinks and counters.
- Allow a small trickle of water to run. This will keep your water system flowing and prevent freezing. Plus it’s easier than flushing the toilet every 15 minutes.
- Try not to go too long between loads of laundry to prevent your water supply from freezing.
If Your Pipe Bursts
- Shut your water off immediately (see, we told you this would come in handy.)
- Thaw pipes with electric heating sources like hair dryers and space heaters.
- DO NOT leave heating sources unattended, or use gas, kerosene, or other flammable heating sources.
- Use caution when turning your newly thawed pipes back on. Turn the water on slowly and pay attention to areas where leaks and cracks might show themselves.
- Go back to the top of this page and re-read these tips to make sure it doesn’t happen again!
Miscellaneous (But Handy) Tips
Here are a few more things that we think you should know.
- Download a weather warning mobile app to alert you to oncoming cold fronts, severe winter weather, and other elemental attacks that might prompt you to reinforce your cold-weather defenses.
- If you leave town, shut off your water. This lessens the risk of pipes bursting unattended — Coming home to a winter wonderland is no fun when it’s inside your house.
- Keep your home’s temperature stable during a cold front.
- Insulate, insulate, insulate! Your pipes, your doors, your windows, your cabinets, your feet, your dog’s feet. All of it. The harder it is for the cold to reach your house, the less likely you will be to encounter issues.
Don’t let the cold chill your fun. By taking proper precautions, you’ll make it to springtime with no problem.