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How To Drain Pipes For Winter

Dec 27, 2022


It’s crucial to monitor your home’s plumbing system as you get ready for the chilly winter months when temperatures drop below freezing. You might even consider draining your pipes to do what you can to avoid frozen, bursting pipes this winter.


But draining water pipes for winter isn’t exactly something you learned in school. If you’re wondering how to drain outdoor water pipes for winter, we have you covered with this step-by-step guide.

Why You Should Learn How to Drain Pipes for Winter

When you don’t properly drain your pipes for the season, you run the risk of some serious plumbing issues. Pipes that haven’t been drained and are then exposed to sub-freezing temperatures are likely to freeze. This not only means your water supply could be clogged, but it also means your pipe is subject to bursting — which quickly becomes an expensive plumbing repair.


Water remaining in your exposed pipes will expand as it freezes, putting pressure on the pipe as the water takes up more space. The frozen, brittle metal will likely begin to split to make more space for the expanding water.


Draining water pipes for winter is the best way to avoid this catastrophe. Investing a little time and energy into pipe-freezing prevention can save you a massive plumbing repair this winter.

How to Drain Outdoor Water Pipes for Winter

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide for draining water pipes for winter to help you keep your home safe and secure throughout the cold season. But don’t worry if you feel like you need some help — CroppMetcalfe is here to help you get the job done. Reach out to us any time to schedule a service.

1. Shut Off the Main Water Valve

Always start by shutting off the water. This can be done at the main water valve.


The location of this valve varies from house to house, and it can either be on the inside or outside of your home. It’s frequently located close to the water meter, but that isn’t always the case. You may need to do some hunting before you find yours. If you have a difficult time, your water supply provider can direct you to the right place.


Once you find your main water valve, turn the knob or lever until the water supply is completely shut off. If this is challenging, you may need to turn it with the aid of a rag to protect your hand. You can also work with a professional plumber to handle the task for you. 

2. Turn on All Water Fixtures

Once your water supply is shut off, it’s time to drain all hot and cold water from your home. You can do this by turning on every source of water in your home until it stops running. In some homes, you can drain your water into your sump-pump pit into the outdoors if necessary.

3. Flush Toilets

Starting from the top of your home and working your way downwards, go through your home and flush all the toilets. You will know the water has fully drained when your toilet tank is empty and won’t refill.

4. Go Through and Close All Faucets

Once you’ve drained all sources of water, go through and close any open faucets.

5. Pump Air Through Your Pipes

Pumping air through water pipes is one of the best ways to rid them of any residual water. Apply short bursts of air to the main drains using an air compressor applied to a basement faucet. By doing so, you’ll drive out any leftover water and lower the possibility of it freezing inside your pipes. You can also use cans of compressed air if you don’t have access to an air compressor. Keep the air at about 70 pounds per square inch (PSI).

6. Flush Dishwasher and Washing Machine Pipes

Run cold and hot water through an empty washing machine and dishwasher to ensure the drain lines are clear. Run them until clear water drains from the drain lines of each machine.

7. Use Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol is antifreeze. Make sure to use non-toxic products. You can pour this into sinks, tubs, and toilets. It will help push any remaining water out of the pipes and keep them from freezing over the course of the winter.

Reach Out for Any Plumbing Needs

If any of the steps above seem intimidating or confusing to you, remember that CroppMetcalfe is always here to help you keep your plumbing system safe and effective. We can help make sure your plumbing is ready for the winter season.  Reach out today to schedule a service for preventive plumbing maintenance.


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