Winter is great! There’s snuggling, warm beverages, indoor game nights, and all manner of other pleasant, cozy things. Winter is also dangerous! It makes roads slippery, and everything takes more effort to get done… things like taking care of your home plumbing, for instance.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of ten preventative winter plumbing maintenance tips. By following these tips, you’ll be able to stay ahead of the potential danger of wintertime. Then you can spend your time playing Scrabble and sipping cocoa instead!

Know where your home’s main water main is

Our first couple tips are the biggest, most general, and most important ones. Knowing the location of your home’s main water valve will mean that even if something does happen you don’t have to worry about getting hypothermia on top of dealing with the problem. Your home’s main water valve is most likely located next to the water meter. Give it a good open and close at least once per year to make sure it’s in proper working order.

Perform an inspection before it’s too cold to do it without a jacket on

Take a walk around the house. Look at faucets, pipes, and hoses. If hoses are still outside, drain them and put them away. Inside, check all your pipes, faucets, showerheads, and similar hardware looking for leaks, cracks, or anything else. Give yourself time to fix things or call a professional before the cold hits, because significant temperature drops can exacerbate existing issues to the point of disaster.

Drain your water heater before the cold weather hits

This is good regular maintenance, but doing it before winter hits means avoiding potential trouble before it’s too late. Draining and replacing the water in your water heater will flush out built-up sediment that can cause rust and, in some cases, leaks or cracks.

Be more careful about clogged drains

This is another good practice to get into year round, but because having water all over your floor during the wintertime can cause more damage, it’s especially prudent to consider during the chillier times of year. Avoid clogs by paying special attention to the things you put down your drain. Don’t pour fats, cooking oils, or significant food waste down any drains. Use hair traps in your shower, and stay vigilant about rinsing the tub out after using it. Winter is also an excellent time to have a professional clean your drains.

Consider investing in additional insulation for your home’s pipes

Frozen pipes are a big potential problem for anyone that lives in the Midwest, and a great way to prevent them is by investing in additional insulation for your home’s plumbing. Foam padding sleeves or insulating tape can be a low-cost solution that prevents high-cost damage.

Clean up your yard

Snow can prevent proper drainage, sure, but snow, debris, leaves, and branches will prevent proper drainage. Clear your rain gutters and downspouts before it’s too cold make sure they’re properly cleaned out, so your house isn’t kept from doing its job and draining runoff.

Double check that your water heater’s temperature setting

120 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal temperature for keeping your water heater working at its best for as long as possible.

Make sure your sump pump is working properly

Do you have an in-home sump pump? Make sure it’s completely cleaned out and working properly by dumping some water in before the temperature prevents you from wanting to do any similar house maintenance (we don’t blame you – it gets cold out here).

Leave a few faucets dripping

If you’re concerned about your pipes freezing this winter, leave a couple faucets open just enough to consistently drip. This takes pressure off the pipes and goes a long way toward preventing freezing. The slight increase in your water bill will be worth the peace of mind you get knowing you won’t have any burst pipes, we promise.