Preventative Plumbing: Avoid Frozen Pipes This Winter

Prevention in plumbing is the best medicine. When pipes freeze and break, you can have a really uncomfortable, costly winter. In most cases, if you waited long enough for frozen plumbing, you need to call in an expert. Flooded basements and pipelines cause water damage and electrical shorts, adding problems to your plumbing woes.

Here are some suggestions for preventative maintenance to keep your plumbing fit through the season:

Install Plumbing Insulation
Rubber insulating tubes--the least expensive option--are sold at most home improvement stores or plumbing supply shops. Wrap them around your pipes in the basement, wherever cold temperatures can freeze up water lines. Join the ends to the couplings with duct tape. Be sure to wear gloves if you're working around hot water lines, or consider turning off the water supply beforehand. In heavily-trafficked basement areas, insulation can also prevent burns from overhead hot-water pipes.


You can also use fiberglass tape, placing it around indoor or outdoor lines. Many people prefer to overlap the sections to ensure snug protection. You can also buy insulating tape that contains electrical filaments--similar to a heating blanket. Electrical insulation is a great resource in sub-zero weather.

Close Outdoor Faucets
Disconnect all outdoor hoses from your faucets. Expanding water can not only burst hoses, it can transmit freezing temperatures to indoor plumbing. If you have interior shutoff valves, turn off the water supply to outside faucets. Be sure to drain out any standing water in the pipes, and cover outdoor faucets with insulation kits available at most home improvement stores.