Winter is right around the corner. And even in South Carolina, temperatures can drop below freezing and that could be detrimental to the plumbing in your home or apartment. Luckily, plumbing disasters can be avoided with just a few preventative measures. Here are a few winter plumbing tips to help keep your home safe and warm this holiday season.
Winter Plumbing Tip 1: Fix Plumbing Leaks Sooner Rather than Later
Got a leaky kitchen faucet? Does your water hose valve keep watering the grass even when you turn it off? These leaks may seem harmless through the summer, but in freezing temperatures, they may cause some costly issues to your plumbing. Here are a few places to check for leaks:
Faucets: Look for water marks on the sink or tub and around the faucet handle. Look for moisture even when the faucet has not been used.
Toilets: You may be able to hear a toilet leaking by putting your ear next to it. If you suspect your toilet is leaking, be sure to give us a call before the temperatures change. You don’t want to have to explain to your holiday guests that you don’t have a working toilet.
Winter Plumbing Tip 2: Let All Faucets Drip Overnight (And Sometimes During the Day)
The best way to avoid a burst pipe is to leave your faucets dripping when the temperature drops below freezing, if properly insulating the pipes isn’t an option. Leaving a small amount of water running will prevent freezing in pipes, and it will also prevent damage from bursting plumbing lines. You can use a bucket or other container to catch the drips. While you often hear about doing this overnight in the winter, keep in mind that if temperatures are low enough, pipes can also freeze during the day. Don’t let your guard down just because it’s daytime.
Before the temperature drops, be sure to call us out to perform a home inspection to identify potential problems.
Winter Plumbing Tip 3: Open Cabinets, Shut the Garage
It may seem strange to leave cabinets open during the winter, but it is an easy way to make sure warm air is getting to your pipes. Leave your kitchen and bathroom cabinets open when the temperature is below freezing for an extra layer of protection for your home’s water lines.
Additionally, if you have water supply lines running through your garage, be sure to keep the garage door closed when possible. This will keep the warm air inside and prevent those pipes from freezing.
Winter Plumbing Tip 4: Add Pipe Insulation
If your plumbing pipes are exposed to cold and moisture, you can save yourself some money by installing a simple pipe insulation kit. These kits are available at most hardware stores, and they typically contain an adhesive tape that sticks on easily. You should install the insulation during warmer weather so it will stick properly, so be sure to prioritize this before the temperature drops.
Winter Plumbing Tip 5: Seal Off Your Crawl Space
If your home has a crawl space with exposed pipes, be sure to seal it off before winter to keep it as warm as possible. Like with a garage, you want to make sure you’re trapping the warm air inside to protect those pipes from freezing.
Winter Plumbing Tip 6: Disconnect Your Garden Hose
If you leave a water-filled hose out in cold weather, the water inside will freeze. If the hose is still connected to your faucet and there’s no way for ice to escape, the ice can back up through your pipes and crack them. Be sure to drain and disconnect your garden hose to avoid this.
Another option is to replace your standard hose bibs with frost proof ones. This allows you to not have to worry about your hoses when the temperature drops. Frost proof hose bibs can be purchased at most home improvement stores.
Winter Plumbing Tip 7: Set Your Thermostat Before Winter Travel
If you plan to be away during cold weather, be sure to leave the heat on in your home and set it to a temperature no lower than 55° F. You don’t want to come home from Christmas dinner to burst pipes.
When leaving for any period of time during the winter, be sure to also follow the earlier steps of leaving faucets dripping and cabinets open. Temperatures can drop even when you’re not expecting it, so it is important to be cautious.
Winter Plumbing Tip 8: Know Where Your Main Shut-Off Valve is Located
In case pipes freeze or burst, you need to shut off your water immediately to avoid flooding and water damage. By locating this before you need to, you can avoid the panic later. If it is an emergency and you cannot locate the water main, be sure to call a plumber immediately to get the line shut off. This is something that can be located during a home inspection as well.
If you have a burst pipe, shut off the main water supply to your home and call a plumber immediately. If you’re unsure whether or not your pipes have burst, check the inside of your home near the burst pipe for wet spots or discoloration on walls and ceilings.
Winter Plumbing Tip 9: Keep an Eye on the Weather
Be prepared for freezing weather by setting up alerts on your smartphone. With weather alerts, you can get your home or apartment prepared for the freezing weather with plenty of time.
We hope that these tips will help keep you warm and safe during this cold winter. It’s so important to stay prepared for extreme weather conditions, especially when you live in an area where temperatures can dip below freezing. If your pipes break or burst, it can cause major damage to your home, so be sure to keep them well maintained and regularly inspected by a professional plumber. If you’re ready to schedule a plumbing inspection or have any questions, feel free to contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!