Protecting Your Home's Plumbing From Freezing Weather

Classic house in fresh snow
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Winter weather can be hard on a house. Follow these steps to protect your home from freezing temperatures, and all the potential problems that come with it.

01 of 08

Protect Water Lines

Red-painted water spigot on building exterior
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To keep outdoor plumbing fixtures​ from freezing, start by disconnecting and storing any garden hoses. Then shut off the water to all outdoor faucets followed by draining the corresponding lines. Lastly, insulate all hose bibs.

02 of 08

Check for Holes and Cracks​

Caulking around window
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Even the tiniest of holes within your home can be an entry point for freezing air. Quickly remedy this by purchasing a tube of foam insulation and filling them. Cracks around entryway doors can also be an entry point for freezing air. Use weather stripping to easily solve this issue. ​

03 of 08

Add Insulation

Blowing insulation in an attic
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Protect your pipes from freezing by making sure that your home is properly insulated. In many cases, this can be as simple as insulating the pipes themselves. However, having properly insulated exterior walls, crawl space or basement, and the attic is recommended.

04 of 08

Keep Water Flowing

Dripping faucet
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If you have any indoor faucets that aren’t properly insulated and are located on an exterior wall, allow them to drip slowly whenever temperatures drop below freezing. By making sure that both the hot and cold lines are slightly opened, your risk of frozen lines is dramatically reduced. Also, consider leaving cabinet doors open, so your pipes will be warmed whenever your home's heating system kicks on.

05 of 08

Ensure Easy Access to Water Shutoff

Wet vac in a flooded basement
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First, if your main water shut off valve is hard to get to, be sure to rearrange you’re your space so that it will be readily accessible in the event of a plumbing emergency. Secondly, test the shut-off valve to be sure that it is in good working order. Turning the dial all the way to the right should shut off all water to the house. Be careful as sometimes these valves can become obstructed with rust and will be locked open or only close partially. If this is the case, replace the valve immediately. 

It’s also recommended that everyone in your home knows where the shut off valve is located and how to turn off the water should an emergency arise.

06 of 08

Close Garage Doors

Exterior view of a closed garage door
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If your home has an attached garage, minimize the amount of time that it remains open. This aids in keeping cold air out of your house while protecting your water heater and any other plumbing that you may have in the garage.

Note: If plumbing is present within your garage, insulating the garage door will greatly reduce the risk of frozen lines.

Go a step further, and insulate the whole garage for maximum protection.

07 of 08

Keep the Temperature Steady

Woman using thermostat
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Be sure that you are able to keep your thermostat operating continuously by keeping spare batteries on hand. Sometimes it is the smallest of details that make a world of difference.

Bonus: Wi-Fi thermostats let you control and monitor your home’s temperature using any mobile device. If your home's temperature drops, you’ll get an email or text alert. Other types of alert systems are available as well. Some send alerts to your cell phone via a phone jack in your home while others send an alert to either a landline or cell phone. These thermostats are available at home centers for $100 - $500.

08 of 08

Prepare for Vacation

Car parked in snowy driveway
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If you are considering your next getaway, don’t forget to turn off the water to your home and drain the plumbing system. This way, you will not have to worry about freezing pipes or other plumbing issues while you are away.

Tip: Something that often goes unnoticed is automatic icemakers. By shutting these devices off before going on vacation it helps protect against burning out its motor. Even if the bin is full, the ice will evaporate and the icemaker will try to make more.

Bedford Regional Water Authority
1723 Falling Creek Road • Bedford • VA 24523

Protecting Your Home From Freezing Weather