Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Winter Care for Pipes

Although we have yet to get a hard freeze, it’s time to close off our outside water sources and prepare them for winter. These can freeze in the winter and cause all sorts of troubles. Water expands when it freezes and can break pipes and faucets.

Disconnect all hoses and drain them as well as you can. You will never be able to get every bit of water out, but holding them up from end to end will get most of it out. Inspect the faucet. If it is leaking, repair now to prevent freezing later. Cover the faucet using a faucet insulation kit —available at hardware stores and home centers. If you have interior shut off valves, close and drain before covering.

Inspect and clean the basement sump pit. Remove any debris or stones. Dump a bucket of water in the pit to test. If it turns on, empties the pit, and turns itself off; it is running properly. Make sure to check your manufacturers guide for instructions for future checking. While you are in the basement, drain the water heater. Sediment collects on the bottom that can cause corrosion; shortening its life.

Some houses have pipes that run through unheated spaces, or pipes that run close to an exterior wall. These pipes need extra insulation or even heat tape. For pipes that freeze in only the bitterest of cold temps, leaving a faucet trickling will keep the water from freezing.

Remember gutters and downspouts are pipes of a sort. If clogged, they can fill up with water that will freeze and damage them. Make sure they are clean and free flowing before winter ice dams come.