Winter Plumbing Preparation

Winter Plumbing Preparation Tips

New Jersey winters can be unpredictable. As the temperature drops, water freezes and expands, which can wreak havoc on your plumbing. Get ready for the next arctic blast with these winter plumbing preparation tips.

Prepare Outdoor Faucets

Find the water shut-off valve that leads to outdoor hose bibs and shut it off. Then, open the faucets and the bleeder cap on the shut-off valve to drain away standing water.

Next, protect hose bibs from freezing by either upgrading to frost-free sillcocks or covering outdoor faucets with an insulated cover. Finally, disconnect, drain and store garden hoses in the garage or shed.

Protect Pipes that Run Through Unconditioned Spaces

Frozen pipes are a serious threat in the winter. The ones most likely to freeze are those in unconditioned spaces, such as the attic, garage, unfinished basement or crawlspace. Fortunately, it’s easy to protect vulnerable plumbing with the right techniques.

First, run heat cable along the length of each exposed pipe. Then, cover the pipe with insulation. Finally, to keep unconditioned spaces as warm as possible, seal air leaks and install insulation.

Tune Up Your Water Heater and Furnace

These appliances work extra hard in the winter. The last thing you need is for them to develop a problem in the middle of a blizzard. Having no heat and hot water stinks, but these problems also increase the chance of frozen pipes.

A little water heater maintenance and a furnace tune-up can improve efficiency and reliability all winter. Plan to schedule these services once a year, preferably in the fall.

Protect Your Plumbing During Cold Snaps

The danger of frozen and burst pipes increases as the temperature falls. When it reaches subzero, run a trickle of water to prevent pressure from building up inside and possibly rupturing your pipes.

Always keep the thermostat turned up to at least 55 degrees, even if you leave town, and keep sink cabinet doors open to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes. You might even run a space heater in unconditioned areas of your home to ensure the temperature remains above freezing.

Heading South for the Winter?

If you’re selling your home or relocating to southern climes for the winter, remember to turn off the water at the main shut-off valve. Then, drain any water remaining in your pipes by opening all the faucets and flushing the toilets. To confirm that all water has been removed from your plumbing, consider hiring a plumber to blow compressed air through the system.

If you prefer not to drain your pipes, keep the thermostat set to 55 degrees to prevent frozen pipes. Then, install a water flow sensor and low-temperature indicator so you can monitor your plumbing and heating from afar. It’s also advisable to shut off the water behind individual fixtures and appliances – including the washing machine, dishwasher, ice maker and toilets – to prevent plumbing leaks.

For help preparing your plumbing for winter, please contact Bob Hoegler Plumbing in Monroe Township, NJ at 732-521-0133.