Lots of snow and winter weather brings things like sledding down a nearby hill or snowball fights in the front yard. That being said, winter weather can be hard on your home. Extremely cold conditions can encourage the water lines in your home to freeze and burst, which could cause severe water damage and lasting negative effects.
If your pipes are frozen, you should hire a plumber in to resolve the issue. However, there’s a lot you can try to keep this from happening – and even minor prevention can go a long way.
What Pipes Are at Risk of Freezing
The pipes at the largest risk of freezing are uncovered water lines. Prevalent locations for uninsulated pipes are inside attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running underneath a modular home. Water lines that are not correctly insulated are at the biggest risk.
How to Stop Pipes from Freezing Over in Your Home
Properly insulating exposed water lines is a great first step to keeping your pipes safe. You’ll likely locate lots of these materials from the local plumbing company, and could also already have some somewhere in your home.
Be careful not to wrap up other flammable insulation materials where they may be caught on fire. If you don’t feel safe insulating the pipes yourself, call your local plumbing services professional in to handle the job.
If you do decide to insulate the pipes yourself, common insulation materials for pipes consist of:
- Wraps or roll insulation: Multiple plumbers, hardware stores and large retailers sell insulation – typically fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can wrap or fit around your pipes. They are offered in various 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 soon enough, try wrapping uninsulated pipes in this.
- Towels or rags: If you aren’t able to buy insulation and don’t have any newspaper to use, wrapping especially vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort may be just enough to keep the cold air off the pipes.
Another preventative step you can attempt to stop pipes from freezing in your home is to seal 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 will this 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 beneath the sinks and other areas of your home that have pipes will allow more warm air from the rest of the room to get to the pipes.
- Letting water drip. Keeping a flow of water by letting your faucets drip even just a bit can help avoid frozen pipes.
- Open interior doors. By opening doors in rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more equally. This is mostly important if you have a room that is frequently colder or hotter than the rest of the home.
- Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors recommendation is the garage door, which you should keep closed – particularly if your water lines run through the garage.
- Keep the heat flowing. Experts recommend setting the thermostat at a persistent temperature and leaving it in place, rather than permitting it to get cooler at night. Set it no lower than 55 degrees.
How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home
When you’re inside a house, it’s not difficult to know when something breaks down. But what added steps can you attempt to stop pipes from freezing in a vacant home or vacation home when the consequences from a frozen pipe may not be discovered for days or even weeks?
As with a primary residence, insulating any exposed water lines, opening interior doors inside the home and winterizing the vacant home are the best steps to attempt first.
Extra Steps to Stop Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home:
- Leave the heat on. Even though you won't always be home, it’s best to keep the heat on – even if you adjust the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary house, experts suggest keeping the temperature at no colder than 55 degrees.
- Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be away for several weeks or are winterizing a seasonal cabin or cottage, switching the water off to the house and clearing the water out of the water lines is an easy way to keep pipes from freezing and bursting. Don’t forget to flush the water out of any appliances, including the hot water heater, and the toilets. Make sure you clear out all the water from the plumbing. If you’re unsure of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure doing it on your own, a plumber in will be delighted to offer support.