A DIY Guide to Winterizing Plumbing


Plumbing is definitely among the most important systems in any home. However, the chilly months can sometimes become scary, with the temperatures possibly dropping below zero degrees centigrade. Freezing temperatures are known to cause a range of problems, including reduced water flow, lack of water, and burst pipes, which can very well result in water damage to property.

To avoid these headaches, it is important to winterize plumbing as part of preparing your home for winter. In case you’re wondering where to start, here’s a brief guide you could use for winterizing your home or commercial property’s plumbing.

Insulate Pipes 

If you have several pipes that are exposed to the cold, start by insulating them. This adds a layer of warmth that prevents the water inside from turning into ice in winter, which could cause damage to the pipes as ice occupies a larger volume compared to liquid water. Moreover, insulation can go a long way in making your home more energy efficient.

Plumbing lines that run through uninsulated areas like the attic, the crawl space, or exterior walls should be insulated to prepare them for winter.

Simply wrap them in foam insulation or self-adhesive pipe insulation, which you can purchase from your local hardware store. For outdoor faucets, you can use outdoor faucet socks to protect your pipes from the chilly winter temperatures.

Drain Your Pipes

Especially if it’s not running, the water in pipes could easily start freezing as the temperatures dip. To protect outdoor pipes such as garden horses from damage, make sure to drain them, disconnect them, and store them away safely. The same should be done for sprinkler systems. You can also use an air compressor to blow out excess water from longer pipes.

Seal Air Drafts 

If your home has a considerable amount of air leaks, you have a few good reasons to seal them before winter. Sealing air drafts will not only help protect your HVAC unit from overworking, but it can also help lower your heating bills and protect indoor plumbing lines from freezing. 

You can use caulking or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around areas like:

  • Crawl space vents
  • Access pipes to plumbing likes
  • Cracks on exterior walls near plumbing
  • Between exterior walls and foundation sills
  • Doors and windows
  • Water heater vents, and chimneys

For caulking, consider using expanding spray foam insulation.

Drain Water from Reservoirs Too 

Especially if you’ll be away for a considerable duration in winter, it’s always smart to leave water reservoirs and holding tanks empty. If your water supply system involves using a jet pump, adding antifreeze to the jet pump case can also help prevent freezing. 

Also, don’t forget to completely flush out water from your toilet tank, as well as the bowl if possible. Where water cannot be emptied, adding antifreeze can help prevent the toilet from cracking due to frozen water. 

Sinks and Drains 

Frozen drains and sinks could easily turn your home uninhabitable if not unhygienic. While it is unlikely for drains and sinks to freeze, it is sometimes a possible occurrence, especially for those that have drain traps. If this is your case, adding antifreeze can be a sure way to prevent freezing when the temperatures drop harshly during winter.

Keep The Taps Open 

Keeping the outdoor pipes dripping can also be beneficial to your plumbing during winter. It allows a continuous flow of water through your pipes, making them more difficult to freeze. To prevent flooding, however, you will want to allow just enough water out of the tap, and perhaps have a container to catch the flowing water from each faucet.

Be Prepared For Emergencies 

It is not unusual to encounter plumbing issues from time to time. From burst pipes to clogged drains, blocked toilets, and sewer line backups, some of these plumbing problems are labeled as emergencies due to the magnitude of damage they can cause.

Since they don’t come knocking from the front door, it’s good to have the contacts of a local plumbing expert on speed dial. The folks at San Jose – Bay Area South plumbing would recommend contacting an expert whose services you can schedule today if not sooner. Besides being on standby for emergencies, an experienced plumber can help inspect your plumbing and recommend ways to make sure it’s ready for winter.

No matter how modern a home might be, it still relies heavily on plumbing each day. This guide can help ensure your plumbing is ready for the winter season and the many challenges it might throw at you.

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