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Stop your pipes from freezing or leaking with these proven winter plumbing tips

The fall and winter months pose a unique set of plumbing problems for your home. It is a good idea to properly prepare early before it starts to get cold.

The last thing you want during the holidays is a clogged sink, leaking shower or overflowing toilet. During the winter, you normally spend more time inside, this is why it is especially important for you to have highly functioning plumbing and heating systems.

Insulate your pipes

If you have exposed outdoor pipes, you can prepare them for winter and avoid leaks by getting them insulated. The goal is to prevent the pipes from freezing. When pipes freeze, the ice inside expands and can crack your pipes.

This causes leaks when the ice melts. It’s best to have a professional insulate your pipes, however, a fast and easy way to insulate your pipes on your own is by using insulated foam tape, which you can purchase at your local hardware store.

This tape is usually self-adhesive and it quickly works to insulate your pipes and keep them from freezing.

Clean your gutters

It is absolutely essential to clean your downspouts and gutters before the rain and snow starts in Vancouver.

When your gutters are full, water and debris can build up. These backups can cause leaks and overflows in your gutters, causing water to end up in areas that don’t have proper drainage.

That “rogue” water can end up pooling in and around your home’s foundation, and – as temperatures dip below zero – it can end up freezing and expanding. As it does, it can weaken or even crack parts of the foundation, leading to structural instability and very costly repairs.

That’s why it’s best to have your gutters cleaned every 6 months. We suggest once in late fall and again in early spring.

Leave one faucet to drip at night

As long as it isn’t extremely cold, this simple trick of leaving a bathroom or kitchen faucet running at a slow drip is usually effective at preventing your pipes from freezing.

By letting water continue to flow through your water line, even very gradually (just one drip every couple of seconds), it’s more difficult for the water to completely freeze through in your plumbing system.

Keep in mind, though – if you need to leave a steady stream running to prevent freezing from happening, you should probably upgrade the insulation around your pipes instead. It’ll end up being more cost-effective in the long run.

Tighten outdoor faucets and disconnect garden hoses

With their direct connection to the outdoors (and those low, low winter temperatures), you don’t want to keep your exterior hoses and faucets directly connected to your indoor water lines.

Tightening the faucet ensures that it’s properly sealed, so water isn’t constantly circulating near colder temperatures and running the risk of freezing.

As for the hose, it’s better to disconnect it for a couple of reasons, and both of them are related to residual water expanding in the hose. Firstly, as the water expands, it can put unwanted pressure on the faucet valve, causing it to crack or burst; secondly, that expansion can damage the hose itself, potentially leaving you with a leaky hose or sprayer head.

Inspect your property’s drainage system

Winter leaks aren’t always caused by freezing. There’s plenty of rain during Vancouver’s winter months, and if your home was built on a sloping lot or lowlands, as is common in the Lower Mainland, chances are you’re at risk for leaks in the basement during the winter.

All homes are required to have a foundational drainage system, to drain water away from the home and prevent it from pooling in your yard. If you notice pools of water forming in your yard, that’s typically a sign that the current drainage system needs to be cleared or upgraded.

Just like with gutter clearing, making sure that water is properly routed around your property and safely drained away can protect your home from thousands of dollars in flooding or foundation damage.

Found a leak? Need expert support? Call Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating

Hillcrest Plumbing & Heating has serviced Vancouver and the Lower-Mainland for over 50 years. We bring local knowledge to the job along with education and industry expertise. We offer 24/7 emergency plumbing service because we know that no one plans for a plumbing emergency to happen. If you are experiencing a leak in your home this winter, contact us for all your plumbing repair needs.

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