Winter is right around the corner. You’ve probably spent some time weatherproofing, cleaning the gutters, and getting your house ready for colder weather. While you’re taking care of all of these home maintenance tasks, don’t forget to prepare your plumbing for winter. Water expands when it freezes and this can cause serious damage to pipes and fixtures. Here are some tips to prevent plumbing issues that often occur when temperatures drop.

Drain the Garden Hose to Prepare Your Plumbing for Winter

If you leave water in the garden hose, it will freeze during cold weather. Before winter arrives, disconnect the hose from the faucet. Drain it and store it indoors until spring. Leaving the hose attached to the tap can allow water to back up into the pipes. If that water freezes, the plumbing pipe will burst.

Know the Location of the Main Water Shut Off

Every homeowner should know the location of the water shut off. In case of a plumbing emergency, you may need to turn off the water to the entire house. Check the inside of your home, around the perimeter. Often you’ll find the shutoff valve on the side that faces the street. There is another shutoff valve outside on your property by the street if you can’t find one indoors.

Insulate the Pipes to Prepare Your Plumbing for Winter

If you have plumbing pipes in uninsulated areas of your home, like the garage, attic, and basement, take steps to protect those pipes from freezing. Attach a heating cable to your pipes. These devices plug into an electrical outlet and have thermostats that manage the temperature of the pipe. Next, install foam pipe insulation over the pipe and heating cable. The insulation will help regulate the temperature of the plumbing pipe, protecting the pipe and requiring less energy to keep the pipe at a safe temperature.

Use Space Heaters to Warm Up Under-Sink Plumbing

Before winter arrives, unpack space heaters and dust them off. A portable heater will come in handy if there is an unexpected cold snap. Your home’s HVAC system doesn’t heat inside the cabinets. Leave your sink cabinet doors open and point a space heater towards it to help prevent frozen pipes.

Leave the Tap Open

When temperatures drop below freezing, leave your kitchen and bathroom taps slightly open. Even a very slow drip will help relieve pressure in case the pipes begin to freeze. This helps prevent the plumbing pipes from bursting.

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