Winter weather can wreak havoc on plumbing pipes, especially if they are not insulated. Water expands when it freezes inside a pipe, causing the pipe to burst. As the water thaws, flooding can occur. Take steps to protect your plumbing from freezing weather to prevent water damage and expensive repair bills.
Set the Thermostat to Protect Your Plumbing
If you’re traveling, you might turn down the thermostat to save money on energy bills while you’re away, but don’t turn the heat off completely. Keep the thermostat set to at least 50 degrees. This will keep the interior air warmer and help protect your pipes in case the temperature outside drops below freezing.
Winterize Outdoor Faucets
Fall is the time of year to disconnect your garden hose and prepare outdoor faucets for winter. Drain the garden hose and store it inside. Turn off the water to the outdoor faucet and open the tap to drain it completely. Water left inside the pipes may freeze and expand, cracking the plumbing pipe and leading to flooding as the pipes thaw.
Add Pipe Insulation
Plumbing pipes in uninsulated areas should be fitted with heat tape and wrapped in insulation. Check your basement, attic, and garage for pipes that need extra protection. Heat tape is a thin product that is attached to pipes. It connects to an electrical outlet to keep the plumbing at a safe temperature. Covering the exposed pipes in foam insulation helps maintain the warmth generated by the heat tape and better protects your plumbing.
Turn on the Tap to Protect Your Plumbing
When temperatures are expected to drop below freezing, turn the tap on slightly. Allowing the water to drip relieves pressure that occurs inside the pipe when ice begins to form. Running water, even at a slow drip, will also slow the freezing of the water inside the pipes. This is especially important for pipes that are on an exterior wall of your home.
Open Sink Cabinet Doors
If outdoor temperatures are expected to be below freezing, open the doors of your kitchen and bathroom sink cabinets. This permits the pipes under the cabinet to be warmed by the temperature-controlled air circulating through your home. In an especially chilly room, use a space heater to maintain a comfortable temperature and keep the pipes warm.