Winter Plumbing Maintenance List

Being prepared for winter plumbing issues is a job for every homeowner.  Winter brings with it both rain and freezing temperatures that can wreck your pipes. 

Use our winter plumbing tips below to prepare your home for the upcoming winter season. 

Winter plumbing
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Winter Plumbing 12 Top Issues and Tips 

Here are the top winter plumbing problems we believe every homeowner should look into before winter comes. 

Winter Plumbing: How do I Prepare my Plumbing for Winter? 

What does plumbing maintenance for the winter season include? Here is a list of 12 things to look for when preparing for the cold winter ahead.

  1. Prep water heater 
  2. Get a plumbing inspection 
  3. Get your drains inspected 
  4. Clear out your drains, gutters and downspouts 
  5. Install Frost free sillcock
  6. Cover outdoor plumbing, including hose bibs
  7. Seal around where pipes connect to walls (rim joists) 
  8. Shut off water to the entire house if leaving town
  9. Take care of Outdoor Plumbing
  10. Insulate pipes 
  11. Clear out any slow running drains and pipes 
  12. Check your sump pump   

Winter Plumbing Tips Explained

Avoiding leaks and water issues in the winter requires planning ahead. Here are details of the 12 winter plumbing things you should be prepared for. If you’re planning a vacation, make sure that you follow the tips below and have someone come by your house to check on the plumbing.

Prep Water Heater

Inspect your hot water heater for any leaks.  How old is your water heater?  It might be time to proactively replace it.  Turn down the temperature to save yourself some cash on electricity to heat the water and even extend the life of the heating element inside.  The minimum temp on a water heater for health reasons is 120 Fahrenheit.

Get a plumbing inspection 

When in doubt, you can always rely on your local plumber to give you a full home inspection and solve any issues before they start. 

Get your drains inspected 

A drainage inspection before the big fall and winter storms come in is a must.  Too much rain can cause your drains to back up, fail, and flood your yard or worse your house. Owing your own drain camera means you could do this at home yourself and save some money.

Clear out your drains, gutters and downspouts 

Water wants to run to the lowest spot and that means from your roof, through the gutters, and down your downspouts.  Remove any debris, birds nests, etc., from your gutters to prevent any flooding. 

Install Frost free sill cocks (hose bibs)

These bad boys can save you if you forget to turn off the water to the outside taps. They prevent the cold air from freezing your pipes because the valve and stem washer are inside your house, instead of outside.

Cover Outdoor Plumbing

Installing new plumbing or moving your outdoor plumbing is expensive. The best option is to cover up any hose bibs, outdoor taps, and exposed outdoor plumbing with insulation or, even thick rags, to keep them from being exposed to the elements and freezing. Insulating or covering up outdoor plumbing helps to retain warmth and keep the chill off the pipes especially at night or when you’re away. We talk about how to insulate pipes in our post HERE.

Part of this is disconnecting outdoor plumbing like hoses, fountains, ponds, sprinklers.

Keep your garage doors closed if there are pipes or plumbing like your hot water heater in the garage.

Seal around where pipes connect to walls (rim joists) 

Sealing the areas where cold air can get in can prevent your pipes from freezing and save you some cash on your heating bill. This also keeps bugs and rodents from getting inside your home as they will be looking for a warm place.

Take care of Outdoor Plumbing 

Shut off outdoor faucets to prevent leaks and freezing. They disconnect, drain, and remove hoses. Also, cover your hose bibs with insulated covers. 

Shut off water to your house if going on vacation

Stop flooding before it starts. Shut off the water to your entire home if no one is going to be home for an extended period of time. I’ve seen homes flooded and the owner not being there for 3 weeks after it flooded. And remember, most home insurance policies do not cover flood damage; that is a separate insurance you must buy. Keep the heat on inside your home so the pipes stay warm; open up cupboards and areas with pipes so the heat circulates around them.

Shutting off outdoor water supply is a must too: you won’t be using it anyways.

Insulate pipes 

Pipe insulation is very affordable and will help to make sure that your pipes don’t freeze in the cold weather.  Insulating your hot water pipes will prevent heat loss and save you some cash on heating hot water. 

Clear out any slow running drains and pipes 

Prevent clogs and backups before they happen by using the best drain auger to clean out all your pipes and drains. 

Check your sump pump   

Run the sump pump to make sure it’s working.  To do this, fill the area with the sump pump with water until it turns on.  If your sump pump doesn’t get rid of all of the water, it’s time for a repair or a replacement.  It tends to rain a lot in fall and early winter months and you want to be ready with a working sump pump to protect your home from flooding. 

At What Temp Do Outdoor Pipes Freeze?

According to, the temp would have to be about 20 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 consecutive hours.  This is easy to accomplish in some parts of the country, so everyone should insulate their pipes before the cold weather hits.  

Importance of Plumbing Maintenance

It’s important to maintain your plumbing all year round, not just in spring or winter. Proper plumbing maintenance should be a part of your home maintenance schedule. It prevents costly disasters from broken pipes, clogs, debris build up, and aging pipes. By performing routine maintenance and inspections, you prolong the life of your pipes and plumbing systems and reduce overall plumbing costs and the need to call in professionals to repair things.


We hope that our Top Winter Plumbing Tips help you get your home ready for the upcoming winter season without too much hassle! 


Can pipes freeze in cold weather?

Yes, so you must keep an eye on the weather and follow our steps above to secure your homes plumbing during the winter.