With winter just around the corner, it's important that you know how to properly care for your plumbing. From increased use due to holiday guests, to the rigors of operating in freezing temperatures, winter can be one of the hardest seasons on your plumbing. The following tips can ensure that everything keeps running smoothly.

Tip #1: Insulate Your Pipes

Insulation is the key to avoid a frozen water pipe in winter. If pipes run through any uninsulated space, such as in a crawl space, take a few minutes to wrap them in pipe insulation. You may even want to wrap exposed pipes underneath sinks if you live in an area with cold winters. Outdoor plumbing spigots and pipes should also be wrapped. Better yet, turn off the water to these spigots and drain the pipes so you don't have to worry about the water freezing inside them.

Tip #2: Be Prepared for a Power Outage

A winter power outage can be a freezing time, but you don't want the plummeting temperatures to lead to frozen or burst pipes. If you didn't insulate the pipes under your sinks previously, do so as soon as the power goes out. You can even wrap a towel around them as a quick form of insulation. Then, turn the tap on slightly so it is dripping. Flowing water takes longer to freeze, so this is usually sufficient to keep the pipes from freezing solid. Once the power is back on, throw open any cabinet doors so the pipes are exposed to the warmth and can come back up to a safe temperature.

Tip #3: Lower the Load

You don't want your water heater working overtime just because you have guests for the winter holidays. To lower the stress on the heater and to ensure everyone gets a warm shower, schedule bathing times. Running two daily shower shifts, one in the morning and one in the evening, helps spread out the showers. You can further ensure there is hot water for all by ruling that there is a 15 minute wait time between showers, which will give the hot water heater time to refill.

Tip #4: Mind the Sink

Keep an eye on the kitchen sink when you are prepping food for winter holiday bashes. Avoid putting grease down the drain, since it can congeal and harden into a pipe blockage. Also make sure you are feeding the garbage disposal correctly – avoid putting hard items, like bones, or stringy or fibrous items, like banana peels, down the disposal. In the bathroom, fit the sinks and tubs with new hair catcher screens and clean them out daily to ensure that any extra holiday guests using the facilities don't lead to a clogged drain.

Contact local plumbers, such as Lowry Services: Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling, for professional help.