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Eight Strategies For Protecting Your Plumbing Pipes From Winter Damage

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Those who have recently relocated to areas where cold temperatures are a normal part of life during winter often don't realize that plumbing pipes are frequently damaged when temperatures get below freezing. Burst pipes are costly and inconvenient, but fortunately, they can be avoided using a combination of strategies. Following are eight things you need to know about protecting your plumbing pipes from winter damage. 

Leave Cabinet Doors Open During Cold Weather Spells 

Opening cabinet doors in your bathroom and kitchen will allow warm air to more easily reach your plumbing pipes. Pipes that supply water to the kitchen may be most vulnerable to freezing because they are generally located on an exterior wall of the home. 

Install Heat Tape 

If you're handy with household maintenance tasks, you can probably manage to install heat tape on your own. You can purchase a heat tape kit at your local home improvement retail store, and if you aren't comfortable installing it yourself, your local plumbing contractor will be experienced with the procedure. Pipes should be in good condition -- never place hate tape over pipes that are leaking. 

If your pipes are already outfitted with heat tape, it's important to ascertain whether the tape was properly installed or if it has begun to experience significant wear-and-tear. Frayed heat tape may actually cause fire.

Install Pipe Sleeves on Vulnerable Pipes

For an extra layer of protection for pipes under kitchen and bathroom sinks and other vulnerable areas such as basements or utility rooms. Pipe sleeves are made from fiberglass or foam rubber, and they are easy enough to install that even those with little or no home maintenance experience can do so without difficulty. 

Identify and Seal Leaks That Allow Cold Air Into Your Home

Look for leaks around pipes, dryer vents, and electrical wiring that may be responsible for letting in cold air. Sealing these leaks will help keep your pipes from freezing -- and your bank account will thank you as well because you'll save on heating costs. 

Keep Garage Doors Closed

Because water supply lines are frequently located in garage exteriors, it's a good idea to keep garage doors closed when temperatures drop below freezing. If subzero temperatures persist during the daytime, it may be wise to place a small heater in the garage near walls where pipes are located.

Leave Thermostat at the Same Temperature Both Day and Night   

Even though you're probably used to turning your thermostat down at night in order to save on heating costs, leaving it at the same temperature both day and night will help protect your pipes from freezing. Your heating bill may end up being higher, but it won't come close to the expense and inconvenience involved in having burst pipes repaired or replaced. 

Leave a Trickle of Running Water

Water is far less likely to freeze if it's moving than when it's standing still. If temperatures much lower than 20 degrees are predicated, leave a trickle of water coming out of a couple of faucets in your home. The kitchen faucet is a good one to leave on because it's probably close to exterior water pipes. Remember -- it isn't necessary to leave the water on at full or even half force --it only takes a trickle to keep water moving fast enough not to freeze. 

Don't Overlook Exterior Water Features

Most homeowners who live in areas with cold winters completely drain their outdoor water supply lines as a part of their yearly winterizing routine. After draining your outdoor supply lines, leave the outside valve open so that any water that remains in the pipes can expand without causing breakage to the pipe. Please don't hesitate to check a site like if you have any questions or concerns about keeping your plumbing pipes safe from winter cold.