The snowy winter weather presents a great opportunity for a fun day sledding down the highest hill or snowball fights in the front yard. That being said, winter weather can be hard on your home. Severely cold conditions can cause the water lines in your home to freeze and burst, which could cause serious water damage and enduring negative effects.
When your pipes are frozen solid, you might need to contact a plumber in to resolve the issue. That being said, there’s multiple things you can try to keep this from happening – and even just a bit of prevention can go a long way.
What Pipes Are at a Higher Chance of Freezing
The pipes at the highest risk of freezing are uncovered water lines. Frequent locations for uncovered pipes are within attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running beneath a modular home. Water lines that are not correctly insulated are at the biggest risk.
How to Keep Pipes from Becoming Frozen in Your Home
Thoroughly insulating uncovered water lines is a solid first step to keeping your pipes free of ice. You’ll likely find many of these materials from a local plumbing company, and may also already have some someplace in your home.
Try not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they might catch fire. If you don’t feel comfortable insulating the pipes yourself, contact your local plumbing services professional in to do the job.
If you do decide to insulate the pipes on your own, common insulation materials for pipes are:
- Wraps or roll insulation: Many plumbers, hardware stores and big box retailers provide insulation – usually fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to cover or fit around your pipes. They are offered in numerous lengths and sizes to fit the needs of your home.
- Newspaper: To a decent degree, newspaper can be used for insulation. If the weather is getting colder and you aren’t able to put in more insulation soon enough, consider covering uninsulated pipes in this.
- Towels or rags: If you miss the opportunity to buy insulation and don’t have any newspaper to use, wrapping particularly vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a last-ditch effort can be just enough to keep the cold air from freezing the pipes.
Another preventative step you can try to stop pipes from becoming frozen is to seal any cracks that could allow cold air inside your home. Keep an eye on the window frames, which can draw in surprisingly strong drafts. Not only should this help to prevent your pipes from freezing, but it will have the additional benefit of making your home more energy efficient.
Five More Ways to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing:
- Open the cabinet doors. Opening the cabinet doors underneath the sinks and other rooms of your home that have pipes will enable more warm air from the rest of the room to get to the pipes.
- Letting water drip. Letting water flow by letting your faucets move even a small amount can help thwart frozen pipes.
- Open interior doors. By opening doors in rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more evenly. This is especially important if you have a room that tends to be colder or hotter than the remainder of your home.
- Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors advice is the garage door, which you should keep down – particularly if your water lines can be found near or under the garage.
- Keep the heat flowing. Experts suggest setting the thermostat at a stable temperature and leaving it there, rather than allowing it to get lower at night. Set it no colder than 55 degrees.
How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home
When you’re inside a house, it’s easy to realize when something goes wrong. But what additional steps can you take to stop pipes from freezing in an empty home or vacation home when the consequences from a frozen pipe might not be discovered for some time?
As with your primary residence, placing extra insulation around any exposed water lines, opening interior doors throughout the home and winterizing the vacant home are the best steps to try at first.
Added Steps to Keep Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home:
- Leave the heat on. Even though you won't always be home, it’s best to keep the heat on – even if you turn the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary house, experts encourage keeping the temperature at no lower than 55 degrees.
- Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be out of the house for several weeks or are winterizing a seasonal cabin or cottage, switching the water off to the house and clearing the water out of the water lines is one way to keep pipes from freezing and bursting open. Remember to clear the water out of all appliances, like the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. Make sure you clear out all the water from the pipes. If you are not sure of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel confident doing it on your own, a plumber in will be delighted to step in.