4 Tips to Winterize Your Plumbing before the First Frost

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Winter is coming. That means your pipes are just a few degrees away from freezing and bursting. Taking steps to winterize your plumbing before the first frost can help prevent a costly repair – and a visit with a plumber.

1. Insulate Pipes and Keep the Heat On

Proper insulation can help keep pipes from freezing. Insulation may not be necessary for piping inside of the building, but those in colder areas, like the basement, shed or sprinkler cabinet, should be wrapped in insulation sleeves, slip-on foam or wrapping.

If you prefer not to use insulation, you can wrap your plumbing in heat tape.

Heat should be kept on in the building to ensure that indoor pipes stay above freezing, and take steps to make sure that heat reaches pipes in cooler areas, like stairwells and attics.

Also, open the cabinet doors underneath sinks to ensure that the heat in your home reaches these key areas.

Crawl spaces should be insulated properly, and vents to the outdoors should be blocked with either wood or cardboard.

2. Let the Faucet Drip

Freezing temperatures may be the only reason to leave your faucets dripping. Keeping a constant flow of trickling water can help keep your pipes warm enough to avoid freezing.

The dripping action will also help eliminate pressure that would otherwise build up when pipes start freezing.

3. Seal Cracks

Walk the perimeter of your home to look for cracks in the basement or foundation. Seal any holes or cracks that you find to help prevent cold air from getting into your home. Caulk is ideal for small cracks, while insulating foam will be needed for larger holes.

Check areas near vents, too, and seal up any cracks you find here as well.

Sealing cracks and holes will also keep unwanted pests out of your home that may be looking for a place to ride out the winter.

4. Keep the Thermostat On

If you plan to leave your home for an extended period of time, leave the thermostat on at least 55 degrees to keep the interior pipes from freezing.

Consider leaving cabinet doors open, too, to allow the heat to reach sink pipes.

In addition to winterizing your home’s plumbing, you may also want to disconnect your garden hoses and store them away until spring. Sprinkler systems should also be drained and blown out by a professional to prevent damage.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.