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How to Winterize Your Home and Prevent Your Drains and Pipes from Freezing

frozen pipes

Emergency plumbers receive numerous urgent calls every winter from homeowners whose pipes and drains have burst due to freezing. Burst pipes and drains can be messy and expensive to fix, so it’s always better to take steps to prevent frozen pipes rather than repair the damage once it’s already done. Here are some tips to prepare your home for winter and protect your drains and pipes from freezing.


1. Remove and drain hoses and water supply lines

A frozen hose can easily cause interior pipes to burst, so you must winterize the exterior plumbing. Drain and remove all outdoor hoses before winter sets in and store them indoors. Close the indoor valves that supply water to your outdoor faucets and then open and drain your outdoor hose bibbs. Keep all hose bibbs and outdoor faucets open for the winter.


You can also use faucet covers or insulating foam to shield outdoor faucets from freezing temperatures. These affordable covers offer an extra layer of protection. Additionally, remember to drain water from the supply lines for your sprinkler system and swimming pool.


2. Insulate pipes in unheated areas

Expert plumbers can quickly tell you that the pipes most at risk of freezing are uninsulated pipes located in unheated areas of your home. Check the plumbing around your home’s exterior, crawl space, garage (if unheated) and attic, and take the time to add insulation to any exposed pipes. Pipes in exterior walls need insulation as well. You can find pipe insulation at hardware stores to help prevent freezing during cold spells.


3. Open cabinet doors during intense cold weather

During periods of intensely cold weather, it can be a good idea to open all your kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors, especially if the pipes supplying your kitchen and bathroom fixtures run through exterior walls. Opening your cabinet doors prevents frozen pipes by exposing the plumbing to warm air circulating through your house.


4. Drip your faucets

On especially cold nights, allow faucets connected to vulnerable pipes to drip slowly. The movement of water prevents freezing, which is especially important for faucets on exterior walls.


5. Drain the system if you’re heading out of town

Whenever you’re heading out of town for an extended period it’s recommended that you shut off the main water supply to prevent expensive leaks and flooding. If you’re wondering how to drain water pipes in winter, don’t worry. During the winter you can drain your plumbing system by closing the main shut-off water valve in your home. Then, open all your indoor and outdoor faucets and flush all the toilets. Water can’t freeze and burst your pipes if there isn’t any of it left. Additionally, get a neighbour to check your home periodically while you’re away.


6. Buy a heat cable

A heat cable wraps around vulnerable pipes and when powered on, the heating element warms up, preventing the temperature of the pipe from dropping to freezing levels. Heat cables are often equipped with thermostats to regulate the temperature, making them energy-efficient and effective in preventing frozen pipes.


7. Insulate attics and crawl spaces

Besides insulting your pipes, ensure your attic and crawl spaces are properly insulated to maintain a consistent indoor temperature. Adequate insulation prevents cold air from seeping in and helps maintain a warmer environment, reducing the risk of frozen pipes.


8. Seal cracks and gaps

Seal any cracks or gaps in your home’s foundation, walls and windows. Cold drafts can lead to frozen pipes, so ensuring a well-insulated home not only saves energy but also prevents freezing issues.


9. Call a professional

Hiring a professional plumber to winterize your home’s plumbing offers expertise, customized solutions and efficiency. They can assess your system, address vulnerabilities and efficiently prepare your plumbing for the colder months, saving you time and potential issues.


10. Replace your pipes

The best advice that any plumber can give you is not to go into winter with old, worn and outdated pipes. If your home and its plumbing system are getting on in years, then having your pipes replaced with updated and more trustworthy materials will be well worth it in the long run.


Winterize Your Exterior and Interior Plumbing in the GTA

As a trusted plumbing company serving Toronto, Barrie and Newmarket, Black Forest Plumbing provides pipe repair and replacement services and emergency plumbing services in the GTA. We can make sure your pipes are ready for winter, and you can trust us to provide timely and efficient repairs for frozen pipes. Contact us today to schedule plumbing service to prepare your home for winter or in case of a plumbing emergency.

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