Snow-covered winter weather brings fun activities like sledding down a nearby hill or snowball fights in the front yard. At the same time, winter weather can be tough on your home. Severely cold conditions can cause the water lines in your home to freeze and burst, which could result in severe water damage and lasting negative effects.
If your pipes are frozen solid, you should hire a plumber in to fix them. Nevertheless, there’s several tasks you can try to keep this from happening – and even just a bit of prevention can go a long way.
What Pipes Are at More Risk of Freezing
The pipes at the largest risk of freezing are uncovered water lines. Frequent locations for uncovered pipes are inside 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 Stop Pipes from Freezing in Your Home
Sufficiently insulating uncovered water lines is a great first step to keeping your pipes safe. You’ll generally have access to most of these materials from the local plumbing company, and could also already have some somewhere in your home.
Try not to wrap other flammable insulation materials where they can be caught on fire. If you don’t feel confident insulating the pipes yourself, contact your local plumbing services professional in to get the job done right.
If you do prefer to insulate the pipes yourself, common insulation materials for pipes include:
- Wraps or roll insulation: Most 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 offered in differing lengths and sizes to satisfy the needs of your home.
- Newspaper: To some degree, newspaper can be used for insulation. If the weather is cooling down and you aren’t able to buy insulation in time, consider covering uninsulated pipes in this.
- Towels or rags: If you aren’t able to add insulation and don’t have any newspaper handy, wrapping especially vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a last-ditch effort may be just enough to keep the cold air away from the pipes.
An additional preventative step you can attempt to prevent pipes from being covered in ice is to seal up any cracks that may permit cold air into your home. Focus on the window frames, which can allow in surprisingly intense drafts. This not only will help to keep 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 under the sinks and other spaces of your home with plumbing will enable more warm air from the rest of the room to flow near the pipes.
- Letting water drip. Letting water flow by letting your faucets drip even just a little can help thwart frozen pipes.
- Open interior doors. By opening doors for rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more evenly. 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 recommendation is the garage door, which you should keep down – especially if your water lines run through the garage.
- Keep the heat steady. Experts suggest setting the thermostat at a stable temperature and leaving it alone, rather than allowing it to get lower at night. Set it no colder than 55 degrees.
How to Stop Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home
When you’re at home, it’s easier to know when something goes wrong. But what additional steps can you attempt to keep pipes from freezing in an empty home or vacation home when the damages from a frozen pipe can remain unnoticed for a while?
As with the main residence, insulating any exposed water lines, opening interior doors in the home and winterizing the vacant home are the first steps to take.
Added Steps to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Empty Home:
- Leave the heat on. Even though you aren't currently using the home, it’s best to leave the heat on – even if you turn the thermostat down colder than you would if you were there. As with a primary residence, experts encourage 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 a long time or are winterizing a seasonal cabin or cottage, turning the water off to the house and emptying the water out of the water lines is an easy way to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. Try not to forget to drain the water out of any appliances, including the hot water heater, or the toilets. See to it that you clear out all the water from the system. If you are not sure of how to clear out the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure handling it without any help, a plumber in will be happy to offer support.