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By Evelyn Wambua

9 tips to avoid expensive winter plumbing leaks

Winter season brings about snow and cold temperatures that cause many plumbing damages, such as frozen pipes, water line leaks and breaks. Preparing the plumbing system of your home for winter is key in avoiding costly repairs. Here are some tips.

1. Cover your outdoor plumbing system

The low winter temperatures can cause water inside the pipes to freeze, which causes them to burst. The results of a broken pipe can be very disastrous, including heavy home floods, damage to furniture and rugs. Wrapping outdoor pipes with foam cubes reduces the possibility of freezing. It is also important to clean gutters before winter to prevent snow and falling leaves from being trapped inside, as this can cause bursting too.

2. Fix any plumbing leak now

Leaks should be repaired as soon as they appear. Check for puddles and drips in the kitchen, utility room and bathroom faucets. Any leaky faucet should be fixed immediately.

3. Disconnect the garden hose

Disconnecting the garden hose throughout the winter season is the best plumbing practice. Winter causes the water inside the hose to freeze, and this freezes the connecting pipes and faucets as well. To avoid high repair bills, disconnect the garden hose and store it properly until the warm season returns.

4. Clean the sump pump

Sump pump drains water from crawlspaces and basements, and like any other plumbing feature, it can freeze. It is advisable to inspect and clean it before winter season settles in order to keep it in a good condition throughout the soggy months. A frozen sump pump can cause major damages in case of a sudden waterfall.

5. Take good care of outdoor faucets

A leaky spigot, bib or faucet can cause damages on the plumbing system in case of freezing. Due to the direct exposure of these outdoor faucets to weather elements, it is important to inspect them regularly and repair any leaks immediately.

6. Shut down the shut-off valves

Closing and draining any indoor shut-off valve that leads to an outdoor faucet keeps the garden taps safe. It also curbs freezing and damages.

7. Insulate all indoor pipes

If the temperature of the pipes is below the freezing point, they will freeze themselves. This can cause bursting or leaking, which in turn causes heavy home damage. Insulating indoor pipes also helps conserve warm water, hence reducing the monthly bills.

8. Avoid pouring oil or grease down the sink and other drains

Cooking oils and grease are likely to clog when the plumbing system is colder, and this puts strain on pipes, drains and disposals. Always run water at regular intervals, for at least 15 seconds to prevent clogging. Also, avoid putting stingy substances and hard particles such as coffee grounds down the drains and disposal.

9. Have a trusted plumber

Plumbing requirements are unique to every home, right from sewerage, water storage tanks, pipes, sinks, taps, toilets and tubes. It is important to have a specific plumber who understands your home's plumbing system, and who you can contact any time of the day in an event of a plumbing problem.

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