In addition to your outdoor AC unit, your tractor, and your hot tub, your entire plumbing system can use some attention to help prepare it for a long, cold winter. This is of course more critical if you live in an area where temperatures frequently fall below freezing, especially if they fall far below or stay under freezing for long periods of time. Before your long northern winter gets started, you'll want to give your plumbing system a quick going over to minimize the chances of expensive and disruptive problems such as burst pipes, which can cause water damage and mold/mildew problems. Here are three tips for plumbing winterization.
1. Servicing your water heater
Your water heater will get a lot of use during the winter. It's more important during the winter, too. In summer, having to take a cold shower might just be an inconvenience, but in winter it could seriously mess up your morning. So be sure to get your regular water heater maintenance done so it'll be up to the task of preparing all that warm water for you day in and day out.
2. Preparing outside pipes and faucets
First you'll need to remove, empty, and store any garden hoses. Then look around for exposed pipes that may require insulation. That can include any pipes that are outside as well as any that are in crawl spaces or basements, garages, unheated areas of the house, or other unprotected areas. There are several methods and materials you can use when insulating pipes, so choose whichever works for your budget, level of DIY skill, and climate.
3. Keep plumbing in mind when you plan
Planning your winter activities doesn't usually include giving a lot of thought to your plumbing, especially if you're going to be away from home on a skiing trip or, for example, visiting your parents for the holidays. However, your winter plans should always include making allowance for your pipes by ensuring that your home remains warm enough to prevent damage. Coming home from vacation to water damage is never fun, so be sure to leave the heat on and have your furnace professionally serviced before you leave to make sure your indoor pipes won't be unprotected.
These tips will help you get your plumbing system ready to withstand the ravages of winter without resulting in unfortunate plumbing disasters like hot water heater failure or pipe failure.