Brisk autumn air often provides homeowners with a gentle reminder that it's time to start getting their homes ready for winter. Failing to prepare your plumbing system for the cold weather can not only bring about gross inconveniences, but also lead to damage of your faucets and piping, necessitating expensive, but preventable, repairs. Here are a few suggestions to help keep your plumbing in good shape come fall and winter.

Tips for outside the house

Your outdoor faucets are especially vulnerable to damage from adverse weather, so this would probably be a good place to start. First, unhook and drain your outdoor hoses and hose bibs before storing them in your garage or other insulated area.

You should also shut off the water supply to your sprinklers and drain them completely by opening the valves in your irrigation boxes. This will help prevent cracking due to expanding frozen water inside the piping.

Next, remove any leaves and debris from your gutters, as they can cause clogging that forces water from melting ice onto your foundation. It is also advisable to have your sewer line cleaned and snaked to prevent inconveniences in the dead of winter, as well as have your septic tank pumped so it works as it should when the temperatures plummet.

Tips for inside the house

To prevent the cold weather from wreaking havoc on your indoor plumbing, start by having a trusted plumber inspect all your pipes for leaks. Even the tiniest drip on a pipe can create internal ice that leads to damage spreading to other faucets.

You should also ensure that all your piping is well insulated, especially in susceptible areas such as the crawlspace or unfinished basement that is not heated. Insulation foam can effectively wrap up exposed piping to prevent wasting hot water and reduce the risk of freezing. It is also crucial that you learn the whereabouts of your water main so you can quickly turn off the water supply to your indoor faucets in case of a frozen or burst pipe.

Your water heater works harder during winter, so you should perform a few maintenance routines to help prevent breakdowns. Start by flushing sediments that may have accumulated in the water tank over time so as to improve heating efficiency. You should also consider having your heater wrapped in an insulation jacket, especially if it is in an unheated area.

Now is the best time to start thinking about preparing your plumbing for fall and winter. By following the tips above, you can avoid most of the plumbing problems associated with colder weather such as burst and frozen pipes, ruined outdoor hoses and outrageous water heating costs.