DIY Ways to Avoid Wintertime Plumbing Emergencies

by Matty ByloosFebruary 18, 2016

Don’t Let Old Man Winter Ruin Your Plumbing

Being a homeowner has its perks: you get to paint your rooms whatever color you choose, you don’t have to worry about your landlord raising the rent, and you get the satisfaction and financial security of building a substantial nest egg, one mortgage payment at a time.

While the benefits are huge, we would be lying if we didn’t mention that homeownership can lead to some pretty serious headaches too. When maintenance issues arise, you can’t just call the landlord and ask them to send a handyman to your home. The handyman (or handywoman) hat rests squarely on your head.
Plumber on the kitchen. Renovation and plumbing.
Wintertime is peak season for plumbing issues, but luckily we’ve got some DIY tips to help keep your home’s plumbing system running smoothly throughout the chilly winter months. Use these tips, and you should be able to leave your monkey wrench in the toolbox.

Keep Your Pipes From Freezing

As you may remember from science class, water expands when it freezes. If allowed to freeze inside your pipes, it can cause them to burst, resulting in an expensive (and wet) disaster.

Fortunately, these wintertime plumbing emergencies are relatively easy to prevent, with a few simple steps.

First, you’ll want to insulate your pipes, especially those located in colder parts of the home. Unless you have a finished basement or attic loft, you probably don’t spend much time in those sections of the home, so you may not keep them as cozy as the rooms you use on a daily basis. Plumbing insulation is available at your local hardware or plumbing supply store, and it will cost way less than having to replace a burst pipe. Plus, it’s really easy to install.

Disconnect Your Garden Hose

You might not think too much about your garden hose during the winter – after all, it’s not really gardening season. But you should know that leaving that hose connected throughout the winter could pose a serious threat to your outdoor plumbing.

Water trapped inside your hose can freeze and expand into your outdoor faucet, causing damage to your fixtures and the pipes connected to them. Disconnecting your hose is an easy preventive measure that can save you a ton of money–it’s a no-brainer.

Close and Drain Outdoor Fixtures

When you’ve finished coiling your hose, take a minute to check on your hose faucet and sprinkler system. If they’re equipped with shut-off valves, use them. While you’re at it, drain any outdoor water lines. Below-ground and irrigation systems sprinklers tend to be better insulated than hose faucets, but why take chances?
Plumber wrench man handsome pipe plumbing kitchen

Drip, Drip, Drip

A dripping faucet can disturb your sleep, but during the winter, it can actually give you peace of mind. When the weather dips below 20º Fahrenheit, turn faucets on just enough to allow a slow drip, especially if the lines feeding them are situated against an exterior wall. This will help keep the pipes from freezing. Also, if they happen to have cabinetry installed beneath them, open the cabinet doors to allow the home’s heating system to help keep them from freezing.

Keep the Grease to a Minimum

Wintertime is the official season of comfort food, and that means an increase in the amount of cooking grease and oil being washed down the drain. By nature, oil and grease tend to coagulate when cold, and they can really do a number on your plumbing.

When preparing wintertime treats such as roast turkey or grandma’s famous oatmeal raisin cookies, try not to pour the oils or grease down the drain when you’re washing your cookware.

Stay Cozy This Winter

Winter is the time to hunker down and be cozy, and plumbing issues are anything but. Take preventative steps to take care of your pipes this winter, though,  and they will treat you and your guests right!


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About The Author
Matty Byloos
Matty is the Content Marketing Specialist for Homes.com. He's a newly minted homeowner who currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife. When he's not working, he enjoys writing fiction, working on the house, and enjoying the amazing nature that the city has to offer. He is also the founder of NOVEL Creative Agency.
1 Comments
  • October 12, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Great article – here in Chicago we have many problems with frozen pipes and burst pipes, etc. We just made a page about some of the most common plumbing emergencies. You can read it at morningnoonandnightplumbing.com

    Thank YOU!
    Morning Noon Night Plumbing & Sewer

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