Winter Plumbing Maintenance Checklist

As winter rolls in and temperatures drop, it’s important to protect your plumbing from potential issues that can be both inconvenient and costly. To avoid waking up to a burst pipe or a malfunctioning water heater on a chilly morning, follow these easy steps in our winter plumbing checklist.

Getting started early in mid to late fall is best but having a seasonal checklist throughout the year is highly suggested.

Winter is one of those seasons that brings a lot of unforeseen damage if your plumbing system has not been kept up with maintenance and here are a few ways to get started in the right direction to help prevent unnecessary issues.

1. Insulate Exposed Pipes:

•  Tip: Use foam insulation sleeves or wrap towels around pipes in unheated areas to prevent freezing.
• There are store-bought solutions and your local home improvement store as well as inexpensive methods of using thick foam sheets to tightly wrap around your pipes during the winter season.

• When to Call a Professional: If you’re unsure about insulating pipes or need help with tricky spots, it’s time to call in a professional plumber to help make sure all exposed pipes are insulated well.

2. Seal Leaks and Cracks:

Tip: Check for drafts and seal gaps around windows and doors to keep the cold out.
• A quick look at all your door frames and windows for correct weather stripping as well as issues concerning uneven doors or windows is a good place to check to keep the heat in.

• When to Call a Professional: If you find extensive leaks or cracks that are challenging to fix on your own, it’s wise to consult a professional plumber to see what your next steps in resolving the issue may be.

3. Disconnect and Store Outdoor Hoses:

Tip: Before the first frost, disconnect hoses, drain them, and store them in a dry place. This will not only help prevent pipe damage but extend the life of your hoses for the next season.

When to Call a Professional: If you notice any issues with outdoor faucets such as drips or cracks, or need help installing frost-proof hose bibs, consider reaching out to your plumber.

4. Service Your Water Heater:

Tip: Flush the tank to remove sediment and check for leaks or signs of wear.
• Flushing the tank is an occasional part of maintenance. Checking for damage, rust, or leaks around your water heater is also very important at this time of year.

When to Call a Professional: If you’re uncomfortable servicing the water heater yourself or suspect any issues, consult a professional plumber for assistance at this time.

5. Locate and Shut Off Main Water Valve:

Tip: Everyone in your household should know the location of the main shut-off valve. In case of an emergency, you may need to quickly know where the valve is and how to correctly shut it off.
When to Call a Professional: If you can’t locate the main valve or need help tagging it for easy identification, a plumber can assist you.

6. Check and Clean Gutters:

Tip: Regularly clean gutters to prevent ice dams and water-related issues.
• Neglecting to clean the gutters, particularly before winter sets in can create blockages, ice formation, and other potential damage to the roofline and along the gutter path.
When to Call a Professional: If you’re unable to clean gutters yourself or need assistance, consider hiring a professional for this task.

7. Monitor Water Pressure:

Tip: Use a gauge to measure water pressure; install a regulator if it exceeds the recommended range. This occasional maintenance will help keep your plumbing system flowing properly and reduce the potential of any damage.
• When to Call a Professional: If you’re unsure about checking water pressure or installing a regulator, consult a plumber for guidance.

8. Inspect Sump Pump and Backup Systems:

Tip: not all homes have one, but if you do, test your sump pump by pouring water into the pit and consider a battery-powered backup system.
When to Call a Professional: If you encounter issues with the sump pump or need help installing a backup system, contacting a professional will get you on the way to a safer system.

9. Thawing Frozen Pipes Safely:

Tip: Use a hairdryer, heating pad, or hot towels to thaw pipes gently.
• The winter season can be very unexpected with rain, snow, and freezing temperatures to consider. Thawing pipes safely helps keep your plumbing system flowing as well as an extra tip to remember that on evenings with freezing temperatures, a small slow drip through one of your faucets also keeps the system working efficiently.
When to Call a Professional: If you’re uncertain or unable to thaw pipes safely, once again, give your professional plumber a call to help you.

10. Signs It’s Time to Call a Plumber:

Tip: Look out for persistent leaks, low water pressure, unusual pipe noises, foul odors, slow drainage, discolored water, inconsistent temperature, frequent clogs, or backups.
• Keep an eye on outside faucets and external pipes to ensure your plumbing system is safe.
When to Call a Professional: If you notice any of the signs mentioned, don’t hesitate to call a plumber to address the issues promptly.


Taking these steps in your winter plumbing checklist ensures a cozy leak-free, and stress-free home during colder months. Remember, early detection of problems and knowing when to call a plumber are crucial.

For the feel good plumbing service, give Plumbing Doctor® a call to help with any of these issues.