Lots of snow and winter weather offers a fun day sledding down the highest hill or snowball fights in the back yard. However, winter weather can be tough on your home. Excessively cold conditions can encourage the water lines in your home to freeze and burst, which may cause severe water damage and enduring negative effects.
If your pipes are frozen solid, you may want to contact a plumber in to fix them. However, there’s a lot you can do to prevent 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 greatest risk of freezing are uninsulated water lines. Prevalent locations for exposed pipes are within attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running underneath a modular home. Water lines that are not properly insulated are at the highest risk.
How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing Over in Your Home
Properly insulating uncovered water lines is a good first step to keeping your pipes safe. You’ll likely locate lots of these materials from a local plumbing company, and might also already have some someplace in your home.
Try not to wrap up other flammable insulation materials where they can light on fire. If you don’t feel comfortable insulating the pipes on your own, get in touch with your local plumbing services professional in to do the job.
If you do prefer to insulate the pipes yourself, good insulation materials for pipes are:
- Wraps or roll insulation: Many plumbers, hardware stores and big box retailers sell insulation – usually 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 fit the needs of your home.
- Newspaper: To some degree, newspaper can be used as insulation. If the weather is getting colder and you aren’t able to add insulation before then, consider covering uninsulated pipes in this.
- Towels or rags: If you miss the opportunity to add insulation and don’t have any newspaper to use, wrapping notably vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort can be just enough to keep the cold air away from the pipes.
An additional preventative step you can attempt to prevent pipes from freezing in your home is to fill any cracks that can let cold air in your home. Focus on the window frames, which can allow in surprisingly powerful drafts. Not only will 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 areas of your home that have pipes 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 trickle even just a little can help prevent frozen pipes.
- Open interior doors. By opening doors in rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more evenly. This is particularly important if there's a room that is frequently colder or hotter than the rest of the home.
- Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors tip is the garage door, which you should keep closed – namely if your water lines run through the garage.
- Keep the heat consistent. Experts suggest setting the thermostat at a uniform temperature and leaving it there, rather than letting it get lower at night. Set it no colder than 55 degrees.
How to Stop Pipes from Freezing in an Empty Home
When you’re at home, it’s easy to know when something isn't right. But what added 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 days or even weeks?
As with your primary residence, insulating any exposed water lines, opening interior doors inside the home and winterizing the vacant home are the best steps to take.
Additional Steps to Keep Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home:
- Leave the heat on. Even though you aren’t going to be there, it’s best to leave the heat on – even if you adjust the thermostat down cooler than you would if you were there. As with a primary residence, experts suggest keeping the temperature at no lower than 55 degrees.
- Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be gone for several weeks or are winterizing a rustic cabin or cottage, turning the water off to the house and clearing the water out of the water lines is an easy way to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting open. Remember to drain the water out of your appliances, including the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. Confirm you get all the water from the pipes. If you're uncertain of how to drain the water from the pipes, or don’t feel comfortable doing it on your own, a plumber in will be glad to offer support.