Updated: December 2022
There’s no doubt winter takes a toll here in the Fox Cities and Green Bay area. We’ve seen wind chills ranging from -30 to -60, blowing winds, frequent school closures, slippery roads, and plumbing issues due to the cold and snow.
One of the main issues our team at Watters Plumbing deals with throughout the winter is frozen pipes, which can cause extensive damage and be costly for homeowners.
As the temperatures drop, prepare your plumbing for the cold winter months. We’ve put together a list to help Wisconsin home and business owners prevent frozen pipes and avoid major winter plumbing issues.
1. Keep Doors in Your Kitchen and Bathroom Open
When you shut doors to rooms you’re not currently using, warm air cannot circulate the pipes, making the room and pipes colder. By opening the doors throughout your house, the warm air can heat the house and the pipes more efficiently.
In severely cold temperatures, we also recommend you open the cupboard doors that hide your kitchen and bathroom pipes. By doing this, the warm air can work directly on the pipes, helping to keep them warm as temperatures drop below zero.
2. Wrap Uninsulated Pipes with Foam
Insulate your pipes for the winter to keep the pipes warm enough so that the water inside doesn’t freeze. The extra layer creates a barrier against cold air.
Foam sleeves and foam tubes are available at most hardware stores in the Fox Valley. Use duct tape to secure them around the pipes.
3. Keep Your Thermostat set at 55 Degrees or Higher
Many frozen pipes occur when Snowbirds turn down their heat before heading south for the winter months or families go out of town for holiday celebrations.
Even when you aren’t home, keep the furnace at 55 degrees or higher to ensure your pipes stay warm while you’re away.
Frozen pipes are not worth saving a few bucks on your heating bill — and may end up costing you thousands in repairs and insurance deductibles. Estimates show that water damage from burst pipes can cost between $5,000-$70,000.
4. Keep Your Garage Doors Closed
Overall, having your garage door closed as much as possible will help keep your pipes and home warmer.
Keeping your garage doors closed is particularly important if your garage is home to water supply lines. If you have the door open for long periods of time, bitterly cold air will enter the space and directly impact water lines.
If opened, a connecting door into your home will also bring in that cold air.
5. Frequently Run Water
Even just a trickle of water can prevent pipes from freezing when the temperatures get really low.
If you plan on taking a vacation in the middle of a Wisconsin winter for a week or longer, contact a trusted family member, friend, or colleague to go to your house and run water for just a few minutes.
Businesses with hybrid or remote employees should also keep this tip in mind for shared office spaces. If the office building sits empty for extended periods, make sure a building manager is running water occasionally.
6. Detach and Put Away Garden Hoses
If left outside, your garden hose may cause problems with your water line as the water inside freezes and damages your faucet and pipe – causing costly repairs.
We see a lot of homeowners that forget to pick up water hoses in the fall. They’re then left to get covered with snow and ice. Make sure you disconnect your garden hose and tighten the faucet to keep the water turned off for the winter.
7. Avoid Clogged Drains and Garbage Disposals
Clogged drains and issues with garbage disposals are prevalent throughout the winter season due to big holiday gatherings and more home-cooked meals.
Using a drain cover and keeping big food scraps out of your sink can help prevent clogs in the sink. You’ll also want to avoid putting grease, bones, eggshells, fruit pits, and other hard foods down your garbage disposal.
8. Inspect Your Water Heater
The water in your water heater is extra cold during the winter, so it has to work even harder to heat up. The extra wear and tear can take its toll.
We recommend having an expert, like our team at Watters Plumbing, stop by to ensure your water heater is in top shape before the cold weather sets in. The last thing you want is a cold shower on a cold winter morning.
9. Conserve Hot Water
Because your water heater will work harder this time of year, do your best to go easy on it. Consider using less hot water by doing fuller loads of dishes and laundry or taking shorter showers.
It also helps to space out running appliances that use hot water, like your dishwasher or washing machine. That way, hot water isn’t going to multiple locations in your home at once, and it has time to heat the water efficiently.
10. Take Care of Plumbing Issues Before it Gets too Cold
If your pipes are leaking or cracked, or there are other minor plumbing issues in your home, the winter months can worsen those problems. You’ll want to take care of any minor issues before the cold temperatures start to set in to prevent them from getting worse.
Give us a call, and we can come and inspect your home for potential plumbing issues and ensure that everything is ready to go for winter.
Contact the Professionals at Watters Plumbing Today!
We hope this list of tips helps to prevent any major plumbing disasters this winter. Do you have any questions or concerns about preventing your pipes from freezing? We’re always here to help. Watters plumbing has experienced, licensed plumbing professionals on call 24/7 in case of an emergency. We hope you have a safe and happy winter season. Stay warm!