How to Prepare Pipes for Winter: Tips from the Pros

how to prepare pipes for winter

Home and business owners in New York know how harsh winters can be. This far north, protecting cars, homes, and businesses from the cold becomes critical as winter approaches.

Plumbing, one of the hardest-hit aspects of any property, tops the maintenance list for most. However, many are unaware of how to prepare pipes for winter.

At Aquamanz Plumbing & Heating, we understand the importance of preparing plumbing for cold weather. We’re Massapequa’s plumbing repair company, and we’ve been repairing frozen pipes for years. 

This blog covers 16 ways every property owner can prepare their home or business for the cold. For expert guidance and assistance on this and other plumbing-related tasks, keep browsing our blog or reach out to our Aquamanz Plumbing & Heating team for a consultation today. 

Why Preparing Pipes for Cold Weather Is Important

Many property owners new to the Massapequa area or the upper east coast have little idea what they’re in for during winter. People from warmer states may not know that frozen pipes can burst, leading to extensive water leaks, property damage, and other issues. 

At Aquamanz Plumbing & Heating, we help clients from all walks of life navigate the challenges of harsh New York winters. We recommend preparing pipes and plumbing fixtures during the fall of each year to prevent freezing temperatures from devastating your property. 

Tips for Prepping Pipes for Winter Weather

Want to know how to prepare pipes for winter? Learn our top tips below. 

#1: Insulate Water Sources

If your home or business uses a well source, protect it by insulating specific components. While the wellhead may have insulation within its housing, all plumbing traveling from the well should have adequate wrapping to protect it from the cold. 

If you have concerns about your well’s insulation, contact plumbing professionals for a pre-winter inspection. 

#2: Maintain Warm Indoor Temperatures

If you want to know how to prepare pipes for winter, gain the advantage by prepping your indoor spaces. Pipes travel throughout your home or business, so it pays to keep indoor temperatures warm and comfortable in all spaces, including those not in use. Keeping warm indoor temperatures ensures that pipes traveling through walls or exposed spaces have some protection from ambient cold temperatures. 

#3: Insulate and Heat Vulnerable Interior Areas of the Property 

Many property owners neglect hidden or unused spaces when heating and insulating their homes and businesses. If plumbing travels through any area of your property, that area must be insulated and heated during winter temperatures.

Some spaces often neglected during pre-winter prep include: 

  • Crawl spaces
  • Basements
  • Attics
  • Foyers
  • Mudrooms and entrance hallways
  • Sunrooms
  • Workshops
  • Garages

To receive expert recommendations on where to insulate and heat your property for protection, work closely with experienced plumbing professionals during your preparations. 

#4: Allow Faucets to Drip

Keeping faucets on at a drip allows water to move continuously through pipes. This process works with both cold and hot water and prevents water from freezing inside delivery pipes and drains. 

Faucet dripping also maintains stable water pressure throughout your property, preventing water hammers, backflow, or other potential issues. To save water when using this method, keep drips to a minimum and never leave a faucet on at full strength. 

#5: Operate Appliances During Cold Temperatures

Other ways to keep water continually moving through pipes include operating appliances during critical times. When temperatures drop to their lowest overnight, use dishwashers, washing machines, and other water-dependant appliances. This keeps water from standing and freezing in pipes and reduces the likelihood of pipe damage. 

#6: Track Indoor Temperature Readings

Some property owners follow all the recommended steps but still deal with freezing pipes during winter. Often, this persistent freezing happens as a result of uneven indoor temperature control. 

Keep track of indoor temperature variations by using ambient thermometers in each room and in critical locations such as under sinks, in water heater closets, in laundry rooms, etc. Where temperatures fluctuate below freezing, install insulation or heating systems as necessary. 

#7: Repair or Replace Weather Sealing

Weather sealing or weather stripping helps insulate and block gaps created by movable parts of properties. Typically, professionals use weather stripping on doors and windows, but they may also include a form of weather stripping on garage doors and around indoor climate control appliances such as mini-splits. 

Before cold temperatures settle in, inspect all weather stripping around your home or business. Check for drafts or peeling stripping, and repair or replace the material as needed. 

#8: Disconnect and Store Garden Hoses 

Some garden hoses never drain completely when attached to an outdoor spigot. When exposed to freezing temperatures, water may freeze inside a garden hose, putting pipes in exterior walls at risk. 

To prevent issues, drain, disconnect, and store garden hoses for the winter season before freezing temperatures arrive. 

#9: Turn Off Water to Outdoor Spigots

Similar to garden hoses, water can sit in the pipes connected to outdoor faucets. Even when these pipes have insulation, they remain more exposed to external temperatures than internal plumbing. As a result, these pipes often freeze and burst first. 

To prevent severe plumbing damage, turn off the water supply to outdoor spigots or faucets. Then, drain these access points by turning them on until the water flow stops. Then, turn them off again for the winter season. 

#10: Insulate and Heat Garage and Workshop Spaces

Properties with garages and workshops may need to consider insulating and heating these spaces during the winter months. 

Some attached and unattached garages and workshops contain plumbing for garden work, utility sink access, and even toilet or shower spaces. When preparing the primary home for winter weather, ensure the pipes and fixtures in these spaces have insulation. 

During cold snaps, heat these spaces either with central heat or portable heating units. 

#11: Use Pipe Insulation 

While many existing pipes inside walls, ceilings, attics, and crawl spaces already have insulation, some may need insulation. Use pipe insulation on all lines traveling to and from wells, HVAC units, water heaters, and other locations with exposed pipes. 

#12: Open or Heat Cabinets

Cabinet doors serve as barriers to ambient heat. Keep pipes under kitchen and bathroom sinks heated by opening cabinet doors in these spaces. If necessary, use portable heaters to add additional ambient warmth. 

#13: Perform HVAC and Furnace Maintenance

Your pipes aren’t protected if your home or business doesn’t have adequate heat. Before cold weather arrives, protect your property by scheduling professional inspections and maintenance for your HVAC or furnace. 

Scheduling these services before winter weather allows property owners the time to make any necessary repairs, alterations, or upgrades to their heating systems before freezing temperatures arrive. HVAC and furnace professionals may also recommend additional steps around the property to keep ambient temperatures safe and warm. 

#14: Monitor Water Usage Rates

Some pipes may leak or burst during the winter months in locations that property owners cannot see. For this reason, monitoring water usage rates provides a critical gauge for the health of a property’s plumbing. 

Property owners who notice a sudden and sharp rise in water usage rates should call for emergency plumbing inspections and repairs as soon as possible. For those who see a more gradual increase, schedule plumbing inspections and consider ways water usage in the home or business may have increased organically. 

#15: Install Frost-Free Sill Cocks

If your property requires the use of outdoor spigots during the winter, you may not have the option to turn off the water supply to these fixtures. For properties facing this dilemma, our experts recommend installing frost-free sill cocks. 

Frost-free sill cocks are faucets that use an extended design to recess the functioning parts of the spigot into the exterior wall. This design insulates the valve, seat, and washer in the warmth of the wall, preventing frost from reaching these components. 

Most home-improvement stores carry frost-free sill cocks. Choosing the right model for your home or business may require additional knowledge of your property’s plumbing. For help installing outdoor spigots, schedule a consultation with an experienced plumbing service in your area. 

#16: Turn Off Your Property’s Water When Leaving

Many property owners in New York travel for the winter to escape the heavy snow and freezing temperatures. While seasoned New York natives know to turn off their home’s water supply during travel, many may not. 

If you plan on leaving your home or business unheated during your travels to save money, reduce the risk of pipe and plumbing damage by turning off all water to your property before leaving. Use your property’s primary shutoff valve or request help from plumbing professionals for the safest way to perform this task. 

Pre-Winter Plumbing Maintenance in Massapequa

Now that your know how to prepare pipes for winter weather, explore other essential ways to protect your property’s plumbing by exploring our blog. Learn about repiping a house, the risks of a DIY plumbing repair, and more. 

If you need winter plumbing maintenance and inspections, our team is just a phone call away. Reach out to our Aquamanz Plumbing & Heating experts at 516-604-5673 to schedule a consultation today.