How to Winterize Your Plumbing

Plumbing pipes can crack or burst if they freeze. Winterizing your plumbing prevents potential disasters and gives you peace of mind.


  • Step 1: Turn off your water heater and shut your water system off if you are leaving home for more than a couple of days. Drain the pipes by turning off the main shut-off valve and then opening all of your faucets and flushing the toilets. Once you've completed those steps, remove the valve plug so it can drain completely. Then tighten the valve and close the faucets.
  • Step 2: Check unheated areas, such as crawl spaces, your basement, attic, or garage, for uninsulated pipes. Use insulating tape or pipe sleeves to cover any uninsulated areas. Also cover any valves or pipe fittings with insulating tape.
  • Step 3: Open the cabinet doors in your kitchen and bathrooms. Since plumbing for these rooms is frequently in exterior walls, exposing them to indoor warmth will help prevent freezing.
  • Step 4: Open cold water faucets farthest away from the street to a steady trickle if the temperature drops below freezing. Keeping the water flowing will prevent freezing. Preventive steps can save time, energy, and money by averting cold weather damage to your plumbing.
  • FACT: Forty percent of indoor water use is attributed to flushing toilets.
  • Step 5: Drain your sprinkler system if you have one. Consult the owner's manual for draining instructions.
  • TIP: Molded foam insulating covers are available at plumbing and hardware stores.
  • TIP: Remove the Styrofoam blocks in the spring to prevent dry rot.
  • Step 6: Close your outside faucets from the shut-off in your basement. Go outside and open all of the faucets to drain any water in the pipes. Leave the faucets open while you go inside to check the shut-off valve for a small brass plug or cap on the valve. Turn the plug to drain water from the valve and then tighten the plug and close your faucets.
  • TIP: Not all faucets have a separate shut-off valve in a basement. Consult a plumber if you're unsure.
  • Step 7: Wrap your outside faucets or hose bibs if you don't have a separate shut-off valve for your outside faucets. Cover pieces of newspaper or rags with plastic, fiberglass, or foam insulating covers to wrap the faucets.
  • Step 8: Caulk around pipes where they enter your house from the outside. Close all of your foundation vents, cut Styrofoam blocks to fit the vent openings, and slide them into the vents.

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