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5 Ways to Protect Your Plumbing in Cold Weather


Renters and property investors have a shared fear when it comes to property damage: plumbing emergencies. With Old Man Winter here, you don’t want to get frozen, broken pipes. Fortunately, it’s a concern we can work together to prevent with some mindful maintenance.


How can you protect your plumbing in cold weather? The following five methods can help, whether you’re traveling for the holidays or merely anticipating a wicked cold snap. 


1. Leave the Water Running


When forecasters predict the temperatures to drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, apartment residents should keep pipes warm by keeping the water running at a low drip. Does this advice violate every environmental principle you ever learned about conservation? Yes, but it can save a fortune in repairs and damage — plus, burst pipes result in significant waste.


Running water helps prevent freezing, so you don’t have to engage your water heater — a cold tap will do until the deep freeze passes. 


2. Drain Your Pipes


Another way to prevent freezing and bursting is to drain a property’s pipes, though this is really only necessary for an unoccupied unit or a property you’ll be vacating in cold weather. You can do so by going to the lowest-sourced sink and letting the water flow out before departing for vacation. 


This procedure can help prevent undetectable cracks — that is, they remain undiscovered until the spring thaw. When the weather heats up, the expansion causes the metal to separate, leading to interior flooding and sometimes significant water damage.


3. Bundle Pipes Up 


If you live in a moderate climate where temperatures rarely dip below freezing, you might be able to substitute newspaper for pipe insulation. However, remain aware that insect and rodent pests adore this substance for nesting. Seek an alternative if you face infestation woes.


Those in colder climates can find pipe sleeves at nearly any big-box hardware store. Make sure you get enough to work around corners — you don’t want to leave any weak, exposed areas. 


Finally, make sure the entire property is well-insulated to protect pipes. Experts recommend 11 inches of fiberglass insulation or 8 inches of cellulose insulation in attic spaces. Property owners should contact professionals to handle installation safely or at least be careful to wear all recommended PPE. Taking care of new insulation can help protect an entire property from plumbing issues in the cold.


4. Keep Tabs On Overhanging Trees


If a tree limb crashes through your window, your first thought probably isn’t your plumbing lines — it might be more along the lines of, “What on earth do I do now?” However, anything that can damage a wall can wipe out your pipes and cause costly flooding. 


The best way to prevent such damage is to keep trees trimmed back away from your property. Doing so will allow you to take better advantage of passive solar heat. If you’re a renter, don’t be afraid to reach out to your property manager with concerns about tree branches — it’s in their best interest to protect the property from long-term damage, too.


5. Keep Your Apartment Warm


Please don’t turn off your heat, even if you plan to be away in the winter. Doing so can cause your pipes to freeze. You should keep the temperature set to at least 55 degrees even while on holiday. 


Many property managers are installing smart thermostats to manage convenience and programming for situations like these. With these tools, renters can schedule heating to dip to the minimum while they’re away and raise it when they return. 


Protect Your Plumbing in Cold Weather With These Tips


Both renters and property managers need to protect plumbing in cold weather or pay the costly consequences. Use the tips above to keep your water flowing this season and avoid any unwanted plumbing emergencies.