Frozen pipes can be a nightmare, often causing untold damage to your home. It is essential to keep your pipes from freezing, especially when you consider the immense damage it could cause.
Table of Contents
Here are 12 tips to keep your house pipes from freezing:
- Insulate your pipes.
- Use heat tape or cables.
- Seal any leaks.
- Keep outdoor hoses, valves, and faucets closed.
- Let water drip.
- Manage thermostat temperatures.
- Open cabinet doors overnight.
- Seal off drafty areas of the house.
- Seal off cracks in the exterior wall.
- Add insulation to unheated interior spaces.
- Invest in a generator.
- Have a friend or neighbor check in.
If the idea of frozen and bursting pipes concerns you, keep reading to find out how you can avoid this household disaster from happening. A few minutes of reading can help you save money on repairs and other services down the road.
1. Insulate Your Pipes
You’ve probably heard the horror stories of homeowners who have experienced frozen pipes that burst and caused immense damage. These stories are usually punctuated by regret that they didn’t do more to prevent the crisis. Insulation for your plumbing helps protect it from cold temperatures that could lead to frozen pipes.
Insulate Your Pipes To Prevent Extensive Future Damage
It may seem like a chore to insulate your pipes, but the cost this incurs is significantly less than fixing water damage resulting in bursting pipes caused by freezing. Even if your pipes don’t burst (because not all frozen pipes do), the obstruction of water flow can lead to domestic inconveniences that could put you in a bad mood.
A toilet that won’t refill after a flush, a faucet that won’t run water, and all the household activities we rely on running water for would have to be put on hold until the problem can be resolved. Insulating your pipes might seem like a tall order until you imagine yourself going through a whole winter constantly plagued by these problems.
2. Use Heat Tape or Cables
Contrary to what the name suggests, heat tape isn’t actually an adhesive. Instead, heat tape is a type of electrical cable that you wind around your pipes. It applies a controlled amount of heat to help with the thermoregulation of your pipes.
If you have safety concerns about this method, fear not. The heat applied is just enough to prevent freezing, and not enough to cause the house to burn down.
3. Seal Any Leaks
Leaks, no matter how tiny, are the proverbial weak link in the chain. A small leak can cause cold air to enter the pipes and freeze them. It cannot be overstated how important it is to seal off any leaks that might set off a chain reaction that ends in extensive water damage and a mold infestation.
Have a Question? Ask HVAC Technician
Click here to use the chatbox to speak with one of our technicians.
No in-home service calls. No appointments.
The usual places you might find air leaks are around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes. It’s a good idea to use caulk or insulation to keep out the cold. Keeping out cold air minimizes the chances of pipes freezing over, which can help avert a whole household crisis.
Preventing Leaks Saves Money
Water damage caused by bursting pipes is at the top on the list of common insurance claims made by homeowners. An average claim for burst pipes costs around $10,000 or more as opposed to the $10 worth of sealant. You do the math.
4. Keep Outdoor Hoses, Valves, and Faucets Closed
Shutting off water to outside drains and pipes in the winter can help prevent frozen plumbing. This simple precaution can reduce the freezing of plumbing inside the house. If you plan to leave for vacation over the winter, you can turn off the main water switch.
However, if you have a fire protection sprinkler system, keep in mind that this will be deactivated when you shut off the water. You will need to decide whether coming home to drywall and flooring ruined by water damage is a risk you’re willing to take by keeping the main switch on.
5. Let Water Drip
Letting water drip continuously during cold temperatures, especially outside faucets, can prevent frozen pipes. Just a small trickle may is sufficient. The constant drip relieves pressure on the pipes and helps prevent them from bursting when they begin to thaw.
The American Red Cross recommends that on days when cold temperatures are predicted, turn your faucets on—especially outside faucets—to a steady trickle. When the cold temperatures set in, they will find your plumbing ready to fight off the freeze.
Any spikes to your water bill if you have to do this many times in the winter are preferred over the cost of repairs for water damage that result from burst pipes.
6. Manage Thermostat Temperatures
Keeping constant temperatures during the day and night also helps to reduce the risk of frozen pipes. This also helps to reduce the strain on the furnace in extreme temperatures. While this might rack up a higher electricity bill, it can spare you thousands of dollars worth of repairs if the pipes freeze and burst.
If you will be going away for extended periods during the cold season, leave the heat on in your home. Set it to a temperature no lower than 55°F (12.78°C). Most cases of frozen plumping occur when outside temperature dip below 20°F (-6.67°C). The heating inside the home can help to counteract the cold temperatures outside.
7. Open Cabinet Doors Overnight
Pipes that are located near the exterior walls of the home are more exposed to the cold temperatures. When temperatures plummet below 20°F (-6.67°C) in the night, the freeze can start to set in. By morning, you might be horrified to find out that you have no running water.
Opening kitchen and cabinet doors helps warmer air to circulate around un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls. This goes a long way in preventing the much-dread freeze. With your thermostat set and the warm air circulating around the house and kitchens, the chances of your plumbing being frozen are mitigated.
8. Seal Off Drafty Areas of the House
Attics and crawl spaces are usually not warmed by the thermostat. If these areas are drafty, any pipes located nearby can become frozen due to the wind chill, which plays a significant role in the freezing of plumbing. To address this, seal off these areas to cut off any draft that may enter.
9. Seal Off Cracks in Exterior Walls
Frigid air can access your plumbing through cracks in the exterior wall. When the weather forecast predicts that temperatures are going to plummet, it’s wise to make the rounds around the outside of your house to check for any visible cracks that you can seal up before the cold hits.
10. Add Insulation to Unheated Interior Spaces
Unheated spaces in the home, such as attics and crawl spaces, may have much colder temperatures than the rest of the house. Plumbing along these areas is much more susceptible to the cold as a result. Adding insulation to these spaces can help protect your pipes from freezing completely.
11. Invest in a Generator
Homeowners with homes located in areas that are prone to winter storms should consider investing in even just a small generator. When a power outage occurs following a storm, you can rely on your generator to power up your home heating system. This will provide warmth for the household and keep your plumbing warm enough to retard any freezing that might creep in.
12. Have a Friend or Neighbor Check In
When planning for a vacation during the winter, enlist the help of a friend or neighbor who would be willing to conduct daily checks on the house to make sure the home is adequately heated. Leaving the thermostat on does not always guarantee constant temperatures throughout your absence. Having a friend drop by daily helps you to stay ahead of any potential freezing of the pipes.
If the temperatures are not reaching dangerous lows, you may not need to have someone check in every day. In some cases, checking in once twice a week will suffice.
Frozen plumbing can be prevented when the proper measures are taken. Manage temperatures by insulating pipes, sealing off leaks, cutting off draft, and ensuring that warm air is circulated in the home. Some of the measures may seem painstaking, but they can go a long way in preventing burst pipes that would rack up bills for repairs.