With the hard freezes of winter, all kinds of plumbing issues can come up. From burst pipes to clogged drains to rusted water heaters, problems can happen easily. And they’re a lot harder to fix when it’s cold outside and all your relatives are inside giving you that disapproving look. So let’s avoid all by taking a few smart steps right now.

Protect Your Pipes

Your pipes are most vulnerable in areas where it gets coldest, like in attics, garages, crawl spaces, and near your outside walls. Keeping these areas heated or insulated can help prevent your pipes from freezing. You can purchase foam padding sleeves or insulating tape from any home improvement store to help insulate them. You should also disconnect your garden hoses from outside faucets because when the water inside the hose freezes and expands, it can cause your faucets and inside pipes to do the same. Once you’ve protected your pipes, it’s still a good idea to check on them periodically throughout winter to make sure no ice or frost is building up.

Drain Your Water Heater

Your water heater is made of metal, of course. This means that when sediment builds up inside, rust can develop. Eventually, that rust will find its way into your drinking, cooking, and shower water. And you don’t want to have Aunt Martha tell you the water looks funny. So consider replacing the water in the water heater before Winter comes, especially if it seems to be getting older and rustier. If it’s really getting older, you should replace it. Better now than in the middle of Winter with a flooded basement.

Be Smart in the Kitchen

Winter is also time for a lot more activity in the kitchen, especially around the holidays. With the frenzy of holiday meal cooking, it’s all too easy to make a drain-clogging mistake. Just be careful not to pour any cooking oils or fats down the drain. They solidify and create clogs. If you do get a clogged drain, try mixing a cup of salt, a cup of baking soda, and a quarter cup of cream of tartar, pouring into the drain and following that with boiling water.

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