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How to Drain Outdoor Water Pipes for Winter

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With the winter months fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about how to prepare your outdoor water pipes for the cold weather. Draining your outdoor water pipes is very important and the process is actually quite simple. Draining your outdoor water pipes prevents outside damage and it can also help to prevent potential indoor damage. 

In this article, we will take a closer look at how to prepare and drain your water pipes ready for the winter months. The paragraph above gives a brief outline, however, we will go over all of the steps in detail.

We will also go over why it is important to drain your water pipes before winter. So if you’re interested in learning more about this process, take a look at the information below. 

How Do You Prepare Your Outdoor Water Pipes for Winter?

The most difficult part of preparing your water pipes for winter is locating where the pipes begin in your property. Most modern homes have piping that starts in the same area – usually on the basement ceiling or somewhere close to the main shut-off valve. 

To drain your outdoor water pipes, you will need to identify the pipes, faucets, and shut-off valves. You will then need to turn off the water supply and open the outdoor faucets to drain the water and then open the bleeder caps to remove any excess water in the pipes. Once this is completed, close all of the bleeder caps and faucets. 

Below is a list of the steps that you will need to take when preparing your outdoor water pipes for winter:

  • Begin by walking around the outside of the property and make a note of every outdoor faucet
  • Disconnect all hoses that are attached to the faucets
  • Drain any water that may be lingering inside the hoses and put them away for storage
  • Go inside the property and find the shut-off valves for each of the faucets (these will be lever valves with bleeder caps on them)
  • Close these valves to stop the supply of water to outside
  • Return to the exterior faucets and open them up so that the water drains out
  • Return to the lever valves and open up the bleeder caps to drain the remaining water from the pipes (make sure to have a bucket ready to catch the escaping water)
  • Screw the bleeder caps back on again
  • Go back outside and close all of the outdoor faucets 

Once you’ve completed all of the steps above, your outdoor pipes and faucets are now ready for winter. 

Why is it Important to Drain Outdoor Water Pipes?

Draining your water pipes before winter is very important. When water freezes, it can cause the outdoor pipes to rupture. If this happens, you may have to deal with a lot of water leaking into your basement or foundation walls. This can cause a lot of damage to the structural integrity of your home and your possessions. 

While it may seem like a daunting task to drain all of your water pipes, especially if you have a lot of outdoor faucets, you can see from the guide above that it is actually quite a simple task. Draining your outdoor water pipes should take no more than an hour to complete, even in larger properties. With this in mind, you should never put off draining your outdoor water pipes before winter or approaching freezing weather. 

How to Protect Your Pipes and Drains in Winter

There are a number of additional things that you can do to protect your water pipes and drains during the winter months. Below is a list of the additional steps that you can take:

  • Insulate
  • Repair leakages
  • Latent heating
  • Be aware of drafts
  • Clear drain grates
  • Install drain protection 


Insulation is one of the best ways that you can protect your pipes and drains from frost damage. If any of your outdoor pipes are still going to be in use during the winter months, then you will need to install insulation. This will prevent any frost damage and will also help to reduce your energy bills. 

Circular insulation can be installed very quickly and this type of insulation is very easy to come by – you can pick this up at most DIY stores. If your pipes are thin, then you can opt for heat tape or cable insulation should be installed in Autumn before the temperatures start to drop below freezing.  

Repair Leakages

When summer comes to a close, it’s a smart idea to take a tour around your property and inspect all of your faucets and pipes for any leakages. If you do happen to find any, you should patch these up and repair them quickly. If the pipe services your heating or water mains, then you should consult a professional to repair the leak for you. 

Latent Heating

One of the easiest ways to prevent frost damage in the home is latent heating. This involves keeping your heating at lower levels during the winter months. A steady lukewarm state of heating shouldn’t have any effect on your heating bill as starting and stopping the heating regularly may actually require more energy. 

Be Aware Of Drafts

Small gaps under doorways or between the masonry may cause spaces to cool down quickly and this could cause the pipes to freeze in the home. You can easily fix draft issues by plugging up draft areas with insulation, plastic, or wood. Be sure not to block any exterior vents when doing this. 

Clear Drain Grates

The fastest way to ensure your drains are working properly and efficiently is to simply keep them clean. Remove any mud, leaves, or debris from the grate to prevent any potential freezing and to also prevent blockages. 

Install Drain Protection 

If the leaves are still falling around your property, then you need to make sure they don’t make their way into your drains. A drain protector made from non-freeze plastic can help to guard your drains against frozen water damage. 

Final Thoughts

Protecting your outdoor water pipes is very important before the winter months. As you can see, it’s not hard at all to drain your water pipes effectively. In this article, we have given you all of the information that you need to know about draining your water pipes as well as some additional measures that you can take to protect your water pipes and drains during winter.

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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