6 Easy Tips for Winterizing Your Plumbing and Pipes

Ebonee Williams
Written by Ebonee Williams
Updated November 2, 2021
Little boy washes hands at kitchen sink, winter scene thru windows
Cavan Images / Cavan via Getty Images

Protect your pipes (and your home!)

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Preparing your home for the winter is more than buying wreaths and inflatable Santas; ’tis the season to deck the halls and get your pipes ready for the cold.

Not taking care of your pipes before winter sets in could lead to frozen pipes and expensive repairs. But there are several preemptive steps you can take to make sure you’re prepared and that your pipes will survive the snow.

1. Heat and Insulate

Pipes in places like the attic, crawl space, or garage are more likely to freeze—especially when temperatures drop to 20 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Using heat cables and insulation together will help protect your pipes. Insulation tools can be found in your local hardware or plumbing supply store.

But keep in mind: Just using insulation alone won’t be enough to keep your pipes warm, and it can even prevent heat from getting to the pipes. So it’s important to use insulation and heat cables as your pipe protection dream team.

2. Let Your Faucets Drip

On extra cold nights, turn on faucets along exterior walls and let them drip through the cold. Keeping dripping faucets eliminates pressure that can build between the faucet and any potential ice blockage. So even if the pipe freezes, it might not burst.

3. Open Sink Cabinets

Introduce more heat by opening the cabinet doors below your sinks. This small act lets more heat get to the pipes within.

4. Fix Exterior Cracks

Man caulk cracks around a house window
David Papazian / Corbis via Getty Images

Before winter arrives, inspect your home’s exterior and look for any cracks or holes. Fill these imperfections with spray foam insulation and caulking to help stop the cold air from getting to your pipes.

5. Seal Off Your Crawl Space

Pier and beam homes with ventilated crawl spaces should be sealed against the cold weather. Cover your vents with heavy-duty pieces of cardboard cut to size and duct tape the cardboard in place. Don't forget to seal off access to the crawl space, too.

If you have a basement, look for cracks in any basement windows that could allow cold air to make contact with pipes. Also, check for worn or missing insulation around garage and utility doors.

6. Keep the Heat On

Turning your heat off is a bad idea, even if you’re planning to be away from your home. The money you’ll save on your heating bill won’t exactly cover the cost of fixing damage from a burst pipe!

So if you’re traveling for the holidays, set the thermostat to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

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