Burst pipes are an expensive and messy experience no homeowner should have. However, as temperatures dip below zero degrees during the cold winter months, there’s a risk that water inside your pipes could freeze, expand, and burst your pipes—creating a major inconvenience and expense for you and your family.

Here’s how to protect your pipes from this unfortunate occurrence.

1. Insulate Pipes Exposed to Cold Air: To prevent freezing, you should insulate all pipes that are exposed to cold air. This is a fairly simple and inexpensive do-it-yourself project.

2. Seal Pipe Leaks: Have all seals checked. Seal leaks can lead to cold air getting into your pipes and freezing the water.

3. Turn Off Outside Taps: Disconnect and drain all outdoor hoses. This important step is best done as part of your fall outdoor chores, but if you still haven’t done it, there’s no time like the present.

4. Install Frost-Free Faucets Outdoors: Installing these in your front and backyard can both prevent pipes from freezing and help you avoid water damage.

5. Install a Water Shut-off Alarm System: If a leak is detected, this system will shut off the water supply to minimize damage.

6. Drain Pipes Before Vacation: When you’re planning to be away from your home for at least four days during winter, be sure to drain all pipes.

Keep in mind, if you’re not the do-it-yourself type, it’s worth the money to hire a plumber to make sure your pipes are ready to go the distance this winter.

And, if you have questions about what your insurance covers should your pipes burst, don’t hesitate to call your insurance broker.