Lots of snow and winter weather offers things like sledding down a nearby hill or snowball fights in the front yard. That being said, winter weather can be difficult on your home. Extremely cold conditions can encourage the water lines in your plumbing to freeze and burst, which may cause severe water damage and lasting negative effects.
If your pipes are frozen solid, you might need to hire a plumber in to handle the problem. That being said, there’s a lot you can do to stop 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 largest risk of freezing are exposed water lines. Prevalent 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 Stop Pipes from Freezing Over in Your Home
Properly insulating exposed water lines is a solid first step to keeping your pipes free of ice. You’ll likely locate many of these materials from your local plumbing company, and may also already have some somewhere in your home.
Be careful not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they can light on fire. If you don’t feel confident insulating the pipes by yourself, contact your local plumbing services professional in to do the job.
If you do prefer to insulate the pipes by yourself, popular insulation materials for pipes consist of:
- Wraps or roll insulation: Lots of plumbers, hardware stores and national retailers offer insulation – commonly fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can wrap or fit around your pipes. They are supplied in various lengths and sizes to suit the needs of your home.
- Newspaper: To some degree, newspaper can be used as an insulator. If the weather is cooling down and you aren’t able to buy insulation soon enough, try wrapping uninsulated pipes in this.
- Towels or rags: If you aren’t able to install insulation and don’t have any newspaper handy, wrapping particularly vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort could be just enough to keep the cold air from freezing the pipes.
One other preventative step you can take to keep pipes from being covered in ice is to fill any cracks that may allow cold air in your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can allow in surprisingly strong drafts. Not only should this help to keep your pipes from freezing, but it will have the extra 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 beneath the sinks and other areas of your home with pipes will permit more warm air from the rest of the room to flow near the pipes.
- Letting water drip. Keeping the water flowing by letting your faucets drip even just a bit can help prevent frozen pipes.
- Open interior doors. By opening doors for rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more consistently. This is especially important if you struggle with a room that is frequently colder or hotter than other rooms.
- Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors advice is the garage door, which you should keep closed – particularly if your water lines are installed under the garage.
- Keep the heat consistent. Experts encourage setting the thermostat at a stable temperature and leaving it alone, rather than allowing it to get lower at night. Set it no cooler than 55 degrees.
How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home
When you’re at home, it’s not difficult to recognize when something goes wrong. But what added steps can you attempt to keep pipes from freezing in an unused home or vacation home when the damage from a frozen pipe may not be discovered for some time?
As with your primary residence, placing extra insulation around any exposed water lines, opening interior doors inside the home and winterizing the vacant home are the basic steps to try at first.
Added Steps to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home:
- Leave the heat on. Even though you aren't currently using the home, it’s best to keep the heat on – even if you switch the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary home, experts recommend keeping the temperature at no cooler than 55 degrees.
- Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be out of the house for an extended period of time or are winterizing a rustic cabin or cottage, switching the water off to the house and draining the water out of the water lines is one way to keep pipes from freezing and bursting. Don’t forget to flush the water out of all appliances, including the hot water heater, and the toilets. Make sure you clear out all the water from the system. If you’re unsure of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel confident performing it yourself, a plumber in will be delighted to offer support.