Prep Your Home’s Plumbing for the Winter

To help Kenosha County residents get ready for winter, Lee Service put together some helpful tips on keeping your pipes safe during the coldest months


Lee Mechanical / Home Service has provided plumbing, heating, cooling and electrical contracting and services for residential, commercial, and industrial needs to the Kenosha area and beyond since 1976.
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Winter is on the way and that means frigid cold temperatures that are brutal on your plumbing system. It’s essential to prepare for winter before the first snowfall. If you don’t take precautions now, you could end up with burst pipes and a flooded home when it drops below freezing outside.

Do an Early Maintenance Check

The adage “prevention is better than cure” holds true, especially when it comes to your home plumbing. The fact is, your house’s pipes and drains are exposed to a wide range of elements, including extreme heat and cold, which can lead to water leaks, frozen pipes, and busted fixtures. These are inconvenient at the best of times, but they can be far more stressful during Wisconsin’s brutal winters.

Unfortunately, water damage isn’t always apparent; in reality, it might take decades for symptoms to show up. This is why regular maintenance checks are vital.

Here’s a quick plumbing inspection checklist:

  • Inspect for leaks that cause puddles or watermarks.
  • Check the caulking or seal around all sinks, tubs, and toilets in your home.
  • Look for signs of mildew or mold, especially in your heaters or near windows.
  • Watch out for signs of corrosion these include discolored water, a funny taste, or frequent clots.
  • Replace the filters in your refrigerator’s water dispenser.
  • Fix dripping faucets in showers, tubs, and sinks.

Many people know that their home’s plumbing is essential to maintain, but it may not be as well understood as what goes into ensuring everything is in working order. To avoid complications down the line make sure everything stays running smoothly at all times.

Inspect All Pipes for Leaks, Cracks, or Other Damage

Don’t let any leaks go unnoticed or unrepaired. There are lots of reasons plumbing fixtures in a home can leak, but the most common culprits include:

  • worn-out rubber washers or seals,
  • loose fittings and
  • damaged pipes.

If you spot any leaks when inspecting your plumbing system, immediately remedy them before they get worse. If there’s an issue with one fixture, ask yourself if it could be affecting other plumbing in your home. If you can’t fix the problem on your own, make sure to call the licensed plumbers at Lee Service, so they can get everything back up and running smoothly for you as soon as possible.

Prevent Your Pipes From Freeze & Bursting

Now, washers and fittings are easy and inexpensive to replace; damaged pipes are more complicated. Years of wear and tear undoubtedly play a role in pipe damage, but homeowners can severely reduce the life span of their plumbing, too. In addition, faulty installation, debris build-up, constant clogging, and not protecting pipes against freezing weather can compromise your plumbing and cost you a lot of money.

How to Protect Your Pipes in Winter

There are several ways we, plumbing professionals, recommend homeowners protect their homes from a winter plumbing emergency:

  • Garden hoses should be disconnected from the outdoor water valve in the winter to prevent freezing of water in pipes.
  • Insulate your pipes by wrapping exposed water and drain lines in insulation to prevent them from freezing and bursting during harsh winter months. This can help alleviate pipe repair in the future.
  • Install heat tape or thermostatic freeze protection on outdoor faucets and exposed pipes, especially those close to the residence’s foundation and susceptible to dropping temperatures.
  • Keep garage doors closed to protect pipes that might run underneath the garage.
  • Seal any cracks around windows and doors.
  • Insulate chilly rooms like basements, crawl spaces, and attics.

Don’t let potential emergency plumbing issues pile up and use this time before the first deep freeze to inspect your home for potential issues.  A trusted, local plumber can review your home’s plumbing if you have any questions or concerns.  Also, don’t forget to check on elderly family members that may need an extra hand during the winter.

Prep Your Home’s Drainage System

As the seasons change, all sorts of debris and gunk can accumulate in plumbing that’s been ignored for ages. This is why it’s essential to clean the drains at least once a year, if not more frequently, depending on your family size and frequency of use.

In addition to clearing out drain traps, here are some other things you should know about preventing clogs and keeping a healthy home:

  • Throw out old, unused items like rags and sponges that might be breeding bacteria.
  • Never pour grease or cooking oil down your drains; it can harden as it cools and clog plumbing pipes.
  • Dispose of all the food scraps from your dishes in the bin instead of washing them down with water. This can help you avoid clogged drains.
  • Make sure plumbing pipes aren’t blocked or damaged by replacing worn-out washers and rubber seals on faucets, fixing leaky plumbing fixtures, and clearing debris from drains.
  • Unclog your drains regularly using drain unblocker granules, or make your own with hot water, baking soda, and vinegar.  Pour 1/2 cup baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar down the drain. Plug the drain, and let sit for one hour then run hot water.

Preventing blockage in plumbing isn’t just about protecting your home from potential damage; it’s also about safeguarding plumbing fixtures and appliances that play a significant role in your day-to-day life.

If you’re trying to unblock drains yourself, we recommend using chemical drain cleaners or clearing out your plumbing with an auger. Be sure to avoid using boiling water, as it can corrode pipes (leaving them open for leaks and more damage). Also, don’t use chemical drain cleaners too frequently, as they can affect plumbing over time. When in doubt, hire Lee Mechanical to check out your home’s drain system.

Protect Your Water Heater

If there’s one appliance in your home that’s most in danger of plumbing damage, it’s the water heater.

They’re often located in basements and garages — areas that are susceptible to dropping temperatures — and their insulation can’t protect them from cold weather all by itself. You’ll need to take additional steps such as adding pipe wrap (or turning up the temperature on the water heater) and insulating plumbing pipes leading to the exterior walls of your home.

Most importantly, you should learn how to shut off power and gas supplies for this appliance so that it doesn’t cause a flood or fire if damaged by cold weather conditions — don’t forget about the electrical panel! Especially in areas where freezing is expected, you should consider having your water heater set to a lower temperature during the winter months.

Inspect Your Appliances

Washing machines, dishwashers, and some refrigerators are also connected to your plumbing system. As mentioned earlier, if your fridge has a water cooling or filtering device, you should be sure to check it and replace the filter regularly.

As for the washing machine and dishwasher, be sure to listen to them the next time you run a cycle. Listen to the water pressure as it fills the machine. Is it slow? Is your washing machine draining water properly after a wash or rinse cycle? These questions could help you identify problems with the plumbing connected to your appliances.

However, if you find plumbing leaks in or around these appliances during the inspection, don’t attempt any repairs yourself; contact a plumbing professional instead. It’s not worth putting your family at risk by attempting plumbing work without proper training and experience.

Lee Mechanical Services

Fixing plumbing issues can be expensive, but they can also be avoided. With some plumbing maintenance and upkeep, you’ll avoid having to pay for costly repairs down the line. That’s why at Lee Service, we offer financing solutions for plumbing issues if your home needs work, updates, renovation, or fixes.  We also offer annual service agreements that include inspections of your plumbing.

If you want to avoid plumbing issues altogether, regular maintenance is the best way of preventing plumbing emergencies from happening in your home. Contact us today to schedule your maintenance appointment today!

Lee Mechanical is a plumbing and heating company with over 40 years of experience and unmatched customer service. You can get expert services at rates that are competitive to other companies throughout the area. In addition, we offer:

  • Piping: We install new plumbing systems, repair leaks, and replace worn-out pipes
  • Water Heaters: We install new water heaters or repair them
  • Faucets: We provide faucet installation as well as repair services
  • Sewer Systems: We fix sewer systems that are not functioning properly to avoid potential sewage backups.

It might be hard to think about now, but it won’t be long before the weather starts turning colder and snow begins falling, from Downtown Kenosha to Pleasant Prairie and beyond. If you don’t take care of your plumbing now, you could be in for a nasty surprise when the temperature drops.

So, don’t wait until it gets too cold outside – start preparing now with these helpful tips. It will save you from having to deal with frozen or burst pipes later on down the road. Contact Lee Mechanical today for your home’s inspection or for more information.