How to Winterize Your Plumbing

Frozen PipesWith the temperatures dipping this time of year, now would be a good time to winterize your plumbing. Although the Pacific Northwest is known for mild winter temperatures, there are still a few safety precautions you can take to make sure your pipes are protected and to eliminate unnecessary repairs due to freezing.

At the first dip in temperatures, disconnect your hoses from the external hose bibs when not in use. Even though modern hose bibs are referred to as nonfreezing, if a hose stays connected, the water may not drain sufficiently. The “caught” water may then freeze in the wall and become susceptible to splitting and unnecessary damages, including a total replacement of the hose bib.

If you live in an older home that does not have self-draining hose bibs, be sure to wrap all exterior faucets. You can purchase a variety of very inexpensive exterior faucet covers at your local hardware store.

If you have a well or an exterior pump house, plugging in a heat lamp is a good way to keep things dry and functioning, and protect against problems in severe temperatures.

There are some beautiful period homes in the Pacific Northwest. Along with the beauty of historical architecture come some challenges in very cold weather.

In these homes, Insulation may not be up to today’s standard of energy efficiency. In extreme temperatures, plumbing piping located on outside walls may be subject to freezing. In that case, in an emergency, leaving the faucet taps in the “on” position allows a tiny bit of water to pass. This prevents freezing in the valve and you can retain use of your faucet until you can get the pipes thawed and protected. We recommend the installation of proper insulation and/or the temporary use of heat tape pipe wrap.

If you are taking the sleigh out on an extended winter holiday or traveling for more than a few days this winter, there are a couple of additional preventative measures you can take to make sure you don’t come home to any unexpected water damage or high utility bills:

  • Turn off your hot-water heater.
  • Turn off your angle stops at the toilets and sinks.
  • If you don’t already have one, install a drain down valve on your hot/cold hose bib located off any unheated space, such as a garage.

Check cold weather plumbing problems off your list by practicing these few simple tips.

Patti Kimler is the owner of KIMCO Plumbing, Inc., located in Poulsbo. For more information, go to