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The Ultimate Pre-Snowstorm Plumbing To-Do List

Now that we're in December, the days are getting shorter, temperatures are starting to drop and winter is creeping in. As a homeowner, you can avoid preventable damage this winter by preparing your plumbing ahead of time. Learn how to winterize your house plumbing in five steps.

1. Drain Hoses and Outdoor Faucets

Hoses and outdoor faucets are the first trouble area during winter weather because they are exposed to freezing temperatures. If these fixtures are left unaddressed, water can freeze up into your pipes and burst inside the house, causing leaks and costly repairs.

To prevent freezing damage, you will need to disconnect and empty all your hoses. Then, take a look at your plumbing to see if you have an interior shut-off valve for your outdoor faucets. If you do, switch it off and completely drain those waterlines. Be sure to cover all your outside faucets with insulation kits or covers. These kits can be picked up at most local hardware stores.

2. Seal out Cold Air

Protect your inside plumbing by keeping the cold out. Check around the outside of your house for any small cracks and seal them with caulk or expanding foam. Be sure all exterior doorframes, garage doors and windows are properly sealed with weatherstripping. If your home has foundation vents leading to your crawlspace or basement, make sure to close and seal them. Many have built-in louvers. If yours does not, invest in a cover or screen to ensure a tight seal. 

3. Keep Your Pipes Cozy

How do you prepare water pipes for winter? The answer will depend on where your pipes are located and how much they are exposed to the cold. If your pipes are in an unheated area such as a garage, attic or crawlspace, they are at a high risk of freezing when a snowstorm passes through. Visit your local hardware store to find insulation to fit your pipes and keep them warm. 

Insulation alone may not be enough to keep your pipes safe in particularly cold areas. Consider wrapping pipes in heat tape or adding heat cord before insulating for further protection, but be sure to follow any manufacturer's safety instructions.

4. Check Your Water Heater

When winter sets in, your water heater will have to work harder to produce hot water for your home. Any malfunctions could leave you stranded with no hot water in the middle of a snowstorm. Make sure your water heater is functioning properly by performing routine maintenance before a storm hits.

To keep your water heater in the best possible working condition, you will first need to flush out any sediments that may have formed in the lines and tank. Follow your manufacturer's instructions to drain several gallons of water from the tank. Test your pressure valve by lifting on the lever and letting it snap back. Be careful, as water released by the pressure valve is very hot. Consult a plumber if you have any concerns.

When in Doubt, Turn to the Professionals

If you are still unsure how to prepare your plumbing for winter storms, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Greater Syracuse can help. Call 315-314-2201 for more information or to schedule your winterizing appointment.