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Cold Weather Plumbing Tips

The cold weather in the late fall and winter months is a concern for your home’s plumbing system in general, not just your water pipes. The cold weather forces your plumbing system to work extra hard, making your home more susceptible to clogs, leaks, cold showers, frozen pipes, and other problems. To prevent and address these problems, execute the following instructions in your home during the upcoming cold weather months.

Prevention Tactics

  • Home Temperature

Never set your home’s thermostat below 55 degrees.

  • At What Temperature Do Pipes Freeze?

Pipes will begin to freeze when outside temperatures are 20 degrees or below. Pipes tend to burst when the outside temperature is 0 degrees or below.

  • Water Heater Temperature

Set your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum performance during the cold months.

  • Treat Your Drains

During the cold weather season, cold pipes will actually cause clogs to happen more often. To prevent this from occurring, it is recommended that you regularly treat your drains with a mixture of 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of baking soda, and 1/4 cup cream of tartar. Pour two cups of boiling water down each of the drains that your treat to make sure the mixture is thoroughly dispersed throughout your drainage system.

  • Insulate Pipes

Plumbing in basements, attics, crawl spaces, garages, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets are susceptible to drafts. Thus it is recommended that you insulate these areas and cover exposed pipes with insulation foam or insulation tape to prevent pipes from direct exposure to drafts.

For kitchen and bathroom cabinets, you can open the cabinet doors during cold temperatures to allow the circulation of air and the prevention of frozen pipes. 

  • Run Water

Be sure to run water through all your drains on a daily basis to prevent freezing. And during really cold temperatures (20 degrees and below) open up your faucets so a little stream of water is continually flowing to prevent your pipes from freezing.

  • Drain Outdoor Spigots and Hoses

Before the cold weather comes in the fall, be sure to detach and drain all garden hoses. Additionally, you should shut off all water flow to your outdoor spigots and drain any remaining water from them. 

Addressing Cold Weather Plumbing Problems

Even after properly utilizing and executing these prevention tactics the pipes in your home may still freeze. While we hope you never have to use them, here are some tips on addressing the plumbing problems you may experience during the fall and winter months.

1) Turn Off Water Supply

When you discover a frozen pipe in your home, turn off your home’s water supply using the shut off main, typically located by your water meter. If a pipe has cracked or burst you do not want water to leak once the ice within the pipe melts. 

2) Turn Faucets On

Frozen ice within your pipes is almost never responsible for cracked or burst pipes. Most pipes crack open due to an overwhelming growth of pressure within the pipes. Water within a pipe expands as it freezes causing pressure within that given pipe to increase, potentially causing your pipe to leak. To prevent this pressure from building up within your pipes, leave your faucets on as the ice melts.

3) Thaw Frozen Pipes

Finally, you can help thaw out the frozen pipes within your home through the following methods: 

  • Blow Dryer
  • Heat Gun
  • Portable Work Lights
  • DO NOT use a torch or open flame

4) Fix the Leaky Pipe

If your pipe is leaking after your have thawed it out, your should replace or repair the faulty pipe by doing it yourself or calling your local plumber.