Lots of snow and winter weather brings things like sledding down the highest hill or snowball fights in the front yard. At the same time, winter weather can be difficult on your home. Excessively cold conditions can encourage the water lines in your home to freeze and burst, which can result in serious water damage and long-lasting negative effects.
If your pipes are frozen, you should contact a plumber in to resolve the issue. That being said, there’s several tasks you can attempt to stop this from happening – and even just a bit of prevention can go a long way.
What Pipes Are at Risk of Freezing
The pipes at the largest risk of freezing are exposed 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 correctly insulated are at the highest risk.
How to Keep Pipes from Freezing Over in Your Home
Properly insulating uncovered water lines is a solid first step to keeping your pipes ice free. You’ll likely have access to many of these materials from the local plumbing company, and may also already have some inside your home.
Be mindful not to wrap up other flammable insulation materials where they may be caught on fire. If you don’t feel comfortable insulating the pipes by yourself, contact your local plumbing services professional in to handle the job.
If you do choose to insulate the pipes on your own, good insulation materials for pipes are:
- Wraps or roll insulation: Lots of plumbers, hardware stores and national retailers offer insulation – commonly fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to wrap or fit around your pipes. They are sold in differing lengths and sizes to satisfy the needs of your home.
- Newspaper: To a decent degree, newspaper can be used as an insulator. If the weather is going to get cold and you aren’t able to put in more insulation before then, try wrapping uninsulated pipes in this.
- Towels or rags: If you miss the opportunity to buy insulation and don’t have any newspaper close by, wrapping notably vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort can be just enough to keep the cold air off the pipes.
One other preventative step you can try to keep pipes from being covered in ice is to seal up any cracks that can permit cold air into your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can draw in surprisingly powerful drafts. Not only should 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 beneath the sinks and other areas of your home with pipes will enable more warm air from the rest of the room to reach the pipes.
- Letting water drip. Letting water flow by letting your faucets move even just a little can help prevent frozen pipes.
- Open interior doors. By opening doors for rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more consistently. This is mostly important if you struggle with a room that is frequently colder or hotter than the rest of the home.
- Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors advice is the garage door, which you should keep shut – especially if your water lines run through the garage.
- Keep the heat steady. Experts encourage setting the thermostat at a persistent temperature and leaving it there, rather than allowing it to get cooler at night. Set it no colder than 55 degrees.
How to Stop Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home
When you’re at home, it’s easier to know when something goes wrong. But what added steps can you attempt to prevent pipes from freezing in a vacant home or vacation home when the consequences from a frozen pipe may not be discovered for a while?
As with a primary residence, insulating any exposed water lines, opening interior doors throughout the home and winterizing the vacant home are the best steps to try at first.
Added Steps to Stop Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home:
- Leave the heat on. Even though you aren't currently using the home, it’s best to keep the heat on – even if you turn the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary house, experts recommend 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 several weeks or are winterizing a rustic cabin or cottage, shutting the water off to the house and draining the water out of the water lines is a good way to keep pipes from freezing and bursting open. Remember to clear the water out of all appliances, such as the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. See to it that you get all the water from the system. If you're uncertain of how to drain the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure handling it without any help, a plumber in will be happy to offer support.