The winter can take a toll on vehicles, roads, your nerves, and the plumbing of your home. Frozen pipes can be inconvenient but repeated freezes can also damage the pipes, potentially leading to major leaks and major expenses in the future. There are a few ways you can winter-proof your plumbing to make your life easier come spring – and keep your plumber bills down.
Disconnect Hoses, Upgrade Spigots
Begin your winter-proofing outside where the piping elements are most exposed to the elements. Disconnect any hoses, roll them up and take them inside. If the spigot the hoses are attached to accidentally discharges some water, the hose and water can freeze and potentially damage the piping beyond the spigot. Make sure all of your spigots are freeze-proof to further protect your outdoor plumbing.
Check Exterior Piping
Check to make sure that none of your home's piping is exposed to the elements. This often happens when piping emerges into a crawl space beneath the house, which doesn't offer much protection from the cold and freeze. For these pipes, invest in a roll of heat tape, which has a thermostat built in that dictates at what outside temperature the tape begins to heat up. The tape can prove pricey but it's well worth the investment to avoid severe damages and leaks caused by exposed pipes.
Find Vulnerable Interior Pipes
Pipes in well heated areas of your home such as an upstairs bathroom or the finished basement aren't at much risk of winter damage. But the pipes that run through and along the exterior walls are a different story.
Cover any exposed pipes in these vulnerable areas with foam pipe insulation. The pipes inside the walls are at the mercy of your home's insulation, which is hopefully good or else you will have a host of other problems this winter.
If you're heading for a particularly bad cold snap, you can help those pipes along by turning on whatever goes to them – usually bathtub, showers and sinks – and allowing water to trickle into the pipes for at least an hour twice a day. This keeps the pipes active, which provides natural heat that can ward off a potential freeze.
If you experience any problems during winter, call a plumber immediately. It's best to take care of the issue as soon as it arises to prevent leaks and costly repairs further down the line.