Lots of snow and winter weather offers fun activities like sledding down a nearby hill or snowball fights in the front yard. That being said, winter weather can be difficult on your home. Excessively cold conditions can cause the water lines in your house's plumbing system to freeze and burst, which may cause significant water damage and enduring negative effects.
If your pipes are frozen, you may want to hire a plumber in to handle the problem. Nevertheless, there’s a lot you can perform on your own to stop this from happening – and even minor prevention can go a long way.
What Pipes Are at a Higher Chance of Freezing
The pipes at the greatest risk of freezing are exposed water lines. Prevalent locations for exposed pipes are in attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running under a modular home. Water lines that are not appropriately insulated are at the highest risk.
How to Keep Pipes from Becoming Frozen in Your Home
Thoroughly insulating uncovered water lines is a good first step to keeping your pipes ice free. You’ll generally locate most of these materials from a local plumbing company, and may also already have some inside your home.
Try not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they may catch fire. If you don’t feel safe insulating the pipes on your own, contact your local plumbing services professional in to get the job done right.
If you do choose to insulate the pipes by yourself, good insulation materials for pipes include:
- Wraps or roll insulation: Many plumbers, hardware stores and large retailers offer insulation – commonly fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to wrap or fit around your pipes. They are sold in various lengths and sizes to suit the needs of your home.
- Newspaper: In a pinch, newspaper can be used for insulation. If the weather is cooling down and you aren’t able to buy insulation in time, try wrapping uninsulated pipes in this.
- Towels or rags: If you miss the opportunity to install insulation and don’t have any newspaper close by, wrapping particularly vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a last-ditch effort could be just enough to keep the cold air off the pipes.
An additional preventative step you can try to prevent pipes from freezing in your home is to fill any cracks that may allow cold air into your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can let in surprisingly intense 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 under the sinks and other rooms of your home with plumbing will permit more warm air from the rest of the room to flow near the pipes.
- Letting water drip. Keeping a flow of water by letting your faucets trickle even just a little can help prevent frozen pipes.
- Open interior doors. By opening doors for rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more equally. This is mostly important if there's 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 down – especially if your water lines can be found near or under the garage.
- Keep the heat steady. Experts recommend setting the thermostat at a stable temperature and leaving it alone, rather than letting it get lower at night. Set it no cooler than 55 degrees.
How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in an Empty Home
When you’re inside a house, it’s easier to know when something breaks down. But what extra steps can you take to stop pipes from freezing in an unused home or vacation home when the damages from a frozen pipe can remain unnoticed for a while?
As with the main residence, placing extra insulation around any exposed water lines, opening interior doors inside the home and winterizing the vacant home are the first steps to attempt first.
Extra Steps to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Unused 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 cooler than you would if you were there. As with a primary residence, experts suggest keeping the temperature at no colder 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 rustic cabin or cottage, shutting the water off to the house and clearing the water out of the water lines is a good way to keep pipes from freezing and bursting open. Try not to forget to flush the water out of all appliances, such as the hot water heater, or the toilets. Confirm you clear out all the water from the pipes. If you're uncertain of how to drain the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure doing it on your own, a plumber in will be delighted to assist.