Most homeowners know that they need to prepare their furnace for winter and also do things to winterize their home. But many people forget about their pipes, and that can be a big mistake. Failing to winterize your pipes can lead to a disaster. Here is a guide on how to winterize your pipes in five easy steps.

Insulate Them

One of the most important steps in winterizing your pipes and the first step you should take is to ensure your pipes are properly insulated. This is especially important for pipes that are in exterior walls and crawlspaces. If insulation in the walls does not provide enough warmth, you should consider wrapping your pipes in foam or blankets.

Open Cabinets

If you don’t feel confident that the insulation on and around your pipes is enough to keep them warm, opening up cabinets can help to increase the heat that gets to them. Opening cabinet doors will allow warm air to circulate through the areas where your pipes are, which will provide further protection against freezing.

Empty Your Sprinkler System

It’s easy to forget about your sprinklers, especially if you get hit with an early season cold snap that you weren’t expecting, but you can help to protect your pipes against the cold by draining your sprinkler system toward the end of the fall. Water left in sprinkler pipes will freeze and cause them to burst. At best, that ruins your sprinkler system. At worst, the pipes will flood inside your garage or even your home. Modern sprinkler systems such as Smartrain’s Smart Controller can even detect current weather patterns and automatically adjust settings accordingly. The Smart Controller will also save money by identifying precipitation and shutting the system off.

Seal Up Cracks and Gaps

Cracks and gaps in your crawlspace or basement walls can let in cold air that can put your pipes at risk. Sealing them up with weatherstripping or caulk will not only protect your pipes, it also will help to weatherize your home and increase your energy efficiency,

Keep a Faucet Running

On very cold nights, a good precaution to take is to leave a faucet running just slightly above a drip. Water is more likely to freeze if it is just sitting in your pipes. Also, having the water running lessens pressure in your pipes and makes it less likely they will burst even if they do freeze.

Keep the Thermostat Up

Even if you are leaving home for several weeks, keep the thermostat set at 65 degrees (18 degrees Celsius) or higher so that interior pipes can stay warm and fluid. See also MSP’s article on dumb things you do with your thermostat that costs you money.

A frozen pipe that bursts is one of the worst home disasters to have to deal with. It can make a huge mess and be expensive to fix. Following these steps to winterize your pipes can help to ensure it doesn’t happen to you.