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Winter Plumbing Tips

house that has had plumbing work done in during the winter

The Winter season can do quite a number on your plumbing system. Thankfully, you can do a few things to ensure an efficient and healthy water system.

In this entry, we’re going to provide some cool Winter plumbing tips that will help you prevent frozen pipes and many other plumbing-related issues.

Shut Off the Outside Valves

You can keep your home warm as much as you want, but if a pipe comes in contact with the cold weather outside, it will start to freeze. This can cause plumbing ruptures in your home, which can put a $15,000+ dent in your budget.

To be safe, the moment the outside temperature hits 0°C, it’s time to shut off every single water valve that you have on the outside of your home. This is a very simple tip that can help protect your plumbing and save you a lot of money in the long run.

You should also keep an eye on the pipes running alongside your home’s outer walls. Given that these pipes freeze easily, wrap them using towels or foam. Oh, and one more thing, let the faucets slowly drip – this encourages water flow and diminishes the chances of freezing.

If a burst happens, your priority should be shutting off the main valve in your home. Once a burst pipe happens, you don’t have the time to contact a professional or look for the valve. Shutting it off by yourself is the best way to go. So, know where your home’s main valve is at all times. Typically, you’ll find it in the proximity of the water meter. Go look for it right now.

Save the Energy, but Know the Limits

Yes, as homeowners, we’re all inclined to try and save up as much energy as possible, both for the sake of our budgets, and as a part of being environmentally conscious.

This is a very mature way of thinking. Unfortunately, if you set the wintertime heating too low, you’re increasing the chances of a rupture occurring. The worst part about ruptures is that, unlike bursts, they can go on for weeks, or months even, without you noticing.

Make sure that your home temperature is at least 7°C at all times. This goes for all rooms inside your home. The 10°C ballpark is optimal in rooms that you aren’t using at the moment.

Of course, the more you invest in your thermostat, the easier the whole temperature control deal will be.

Check Out the Water Heater

Hot showers are brilliant regardless of the season. But during the Winter, a properly-running water heater is beneficial to your plumbing. Unfortunately, unless you have plumbing experience, you’ll have a hard time checking whether everything is in order.

Have the water heater unit serviced by a professional. They’ll check the sacrificial anode rod in the tank and replace any parts if necessary. Alternatively, they’ll tell you that your heater is beyond repair and advise you to get a new one. Trust us; this investment is a whole lot better than experiencing a burst or ruptured pipe during wintertime.

Oh, and make sure that you don’t go over 125°C when setting the heater dial.

Keep the Kitchen Drains and Disposal in Order

What’s worse than a clogged kitchen drain? A clogged and frozen drain. Generally, the kitchen drains don’t freeze easily. But clog it with a lot of food, and the water flow will be diminished, which promotes freezing.

How does a drain clog? This is an important question, particularly for the holiday season. Fat and oil accumulation can congeal in the pipes, which is why you should ensure that as few leftovers as possible end up going down the drain. Instead of pouring the grease away, let it thicken on the dish itself, and scrape it and throw it out.

When it comes to the disposal, always add the remains to a garbage disposal unit that’s already turned on. After each disposal, turn the machine off; then, run enough water to clean the whole system. Like with drains, this will help prevent disposal freezes.

Check the Outside Drainage

You don’t want to be out there in the freezing cold, clearing a clogged drainage system. The best practice is having the downspouts and gutters prepared for the Winter by clearing them out and making sure that the rainwater and all the debris can smoothly drain.

To check whether the drainage is working properly, pour water down the system and see if it’s coming out at a regular rate.

Install Insulation

Foam insulation can go a long way in helping you avoid frozen pipes and plumbing. Thankfully, foam sheaths are very easy to install (you can do it on your own) and available in every hardware store out there.

But don’t insulate only a portion of the pipe; it’s important that you install the sheaths along the pipe’s entire length. Well, at least from the ground to where it has already entered your home (heated space).

Pay special attention to pipes in the attic, basement, and outdoor spaces exposed to potentially freezing temperatures.

Although it’s a fairly straightforward job, don’t be ashamed to refer to an expert plumber to cover the plumbing insulation for you.

Start Early

Plumbing insulation considerations shouldn’t begin during wintertime. Start thinking about this during the summer months. However, seeing as how the Winter is already here, be sure to realize that it’s not too late. Go ahead and take the right precautions to protect your plumbing.

The Importance of Winter Plumbing

The Winter is the time of year when your pipes are in danger. These Winter plumbing tips should help you prevent frozen pipes and various other Winter plumbing issues. Make sure that you start thinking about your plumbing right now. Who knows, maybe you already have a ruptured pipe somewhere. Refer to the experts – better be safe than sorry.


Paul S

Paul has more then 20 years in basement waterproofing and plumbing projects experience. Looking for an advice from an expert plumber? Make sure to read Paul's articles about residential waterproofing and plumbing projects in Toronto.

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