Tips to Prevent Your Pipes from Freezing

This winter has been brutal, and it’s not even halfway over yet. In record-breaking cold, you have to protect your pipes or they might freeze – or even burst. Obviously, pipes freezing means not getting access to water when you need it, but it can be extremely costly to repair the damage from burst pipes. Water expands when it freezes, which can cause your pipes to burst. Not only will you need to fix the plumbing, you might also have water damage depending on how exactly your pipe burst.

The pipes that you need to focus on the most are the ones outside or in areas without heat and insulation. This includes everything from your garden hose to pipes in your basement and along exterior walls. Read on for some tips on how to keep pipes from freezing, however cold the temperatures may drop this year.

Pipe Protection

Drain all the water out of the pipes. If you have a pool, drain it. If you have a garden hose or sprinkler, drain them. Try to remove all the water sitting in any exposed outdoor pipes. Shut off the inside valves that are supplying water to your outside pipes and hoses. Make sure that you also open the outside spigot to drain the water out, and keep it open so if there’s any water left, it can expand without breaking the pipes. You can also cover your outside faucet with a polystyrene shell, a rigid foam cover or a plastic shell to keep it insulated. Don’t forget to bring your hoses inside for storage so they don’t get damaged over the winter. It’s too cold to be using them anyway.

Adding insulation to your basement, attic, garage, crawl spaces and anywhere there are pipes will help prevent it from getting too cold in those spaces. It’s best to focus on windows, doors and any air leaks to get the best results. Ideally, use caulk or expanding foam to seal up air leaks.

Go one step further and insulate your exposed pipes. There are a variety of materials you can use to keep your pipes warm, including fiberglass pipe wrap, adhesive pipe sleeves, heating tape and heating cable. Like anything adhesive, your pipes need to be cleaned thoroughly before installing insulation – otherwise the adhesive material might not stick. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which material is best for your home, but be sure to wear proper safety equipment when handling fiberglass. Check out our pipe insulation – we’ve got everything from pipe insulation tape and tube insulation to fiberglass and polyethylene pipe wraps.

As for kitchen and bathroom pipes, these can get exceptionally cold. Keep the cabinet doors open at night when temperatures drop and there’s less use so that your heat will help keep the pipes warm.

At this point, there’s not a whole lot more that you can do to really prevent your pipes from freezing. Of course, try to keep your home as sealed and insulated from the cold as possible. That means avoid opening the garage door, keep your house heated (even when you’re away) and minimize any cold air exposure from windows and doors. You can also monitor your pipes with a thermostat or get a self-regulating thermostat pipe heating cable as additional reinforcement.

However, there is one more trick that will help prevent frozen pipes. Keep your faucets running with a light trickle of water (yes, it can be cold). Moving water is much more difficult to freeze, which is why you often see frozen lakes but rarely frozen rivers.

Now that you’ve done everything you can to make sure your pipes don’t freeze this winter, it’s time to learn how to tell if your pipes are frozen – and what to do about it. If you turn your faucet on and nothing comes out, or there’s only a trickle, then there’s probably a frozen pipe somewhere along the channel feeding that faucet. If this happens, don’t panic. If it was likely to burst, it probably would’ve already, and now that you found it, you can thaw it before anything bad happens.

First, you want to keep the faucet open. Any moving water will help the frozen pipe thaw faster and melt any ice. Next, you’ll want to find the actual frozen pipe as well as any other pipes that might be frozen. If one pipe froze, it’s likely that there are more. It could be one of the pipes along your exterior walls or where your water line connects to the house. Once you’ve identified the frozen pipe(s), use a heating pad or hair dryer (anything that will apply continuous warmth) to warm it up and thaw any ice in it. Keep the heat going until normal water pressure is back. If you’re unable to access or locate the frozen pipe, you’ll need to call a licensed plumber to help.

Use these tips to keep your pipes from freezing in the winter and avoid the costly bill that comes from burst pipes. We strongly recommend using a combination of these tips or employing all of them to ensure that your pipes are safe and won’t freeze. Feel free to comment with any questions or tips you might have to share! We’d love to hear from you.


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