Plumbing, to the average person, means stacking pipes and installing toilets and sinks in the home. However, plumbing, in a colloquial sense, deals with anything related to water and the devices which carry it from point A to point B. In this sense, there are many things in and around your home that can be considered plumbing, and you need to be sure that all of it's safe before those colder months get here.
Did you know that garden hoses can freeze and crack? Sure, paying an extra $20 for a garden hose isn't the end of the world. We've all ran over them with the lawnmower before or have had to buy longer hoses. But the point here is that damage can be prevented if you only drain them. Don't let them freeze and crack; drain and store your garden hose.
If you have any type of pipe that is exposed, whether it's inside or outside, you should insulate this pipe. It doesn't take much to buy one of those grey foam sleeves to put around your pipes. This will keep them from freezing and will also protect them from other types of damage.
Water heaters are rather costly to replace, and if they happen to burst on you, you could be dealing with thousands upon thousands of dollars of home damage. The winter weather is unkind to these appliances, so make sure you run a quality control inspection at least once per year on your water heater.
Your yard sprinkler lines are probably buried, and thus you think they're safe. However, if they have standing water in the lines, this water could freeze and expand, and it could ruin your system. A great way around this is to simply blow the water out of your lines during the fall and winter months.
Copper is a great conductor of electricity, that's why it's used in power lines. But it's also a great conductor of cold. If you have a crack in your home, for example, that cold wind getting through could freeze out your pipes and cause some serious damage. Make sure you insulate cracks and areas of exposure. You can't risk the pipe damage.
One of the best ways to prevent any type of damage to your pipes in the colder months is to shut off the water completely at night. Figure out where your main shutoff vale is, and turn it off on those bitterly cold nights. After you turn the valve off, run the sink until the water completely stops. This will keep your pipes safe.
In some parts of the world, fall and winter nights bring temperatures of minus 20 Fahrenheit and below, so having heat is essential for you and for your plumbing. Inspecting the furnace to ensure that everything's in working order is a surefire way to prevent any real damage.
If you're willing to spend a little bit of time to protect your plumbing during the colder months, you should be able to get through the fall and winter without any damage. Try implementing the tips above to help save your pipes.