The snowy winter weather offers fun activities like sledding down the highest hill or snowball fights in the back 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 can result in severe water damage and lasting negative effects.
When your pipes are frozen, you may want to contact a plumber in to fix them. However, there’s several tasks you can try to keep 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 highest risk of freezing are exposed water lines. Common locations for uncovered pipes are inside attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running beneath a modular home. Water lines that are not correctly insulated are at the greatest risk.
How to Stop Pipes from Freezing in Your Home
Sufficiently insulating uncovered water lines is a great first step to keeping your pipes ice free. You’ll often locate many of these materials from the local plumbing company, and could also already have some somewhere in your home.
Be careful not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they may catch fire. If you don’t feel safe insulating the pipes by yourself, contact your local plumbing services professional in to handle the job.
If you do choose to insulate the pipes yourself, popular insulation materials for pipes consist of:
- Wraps or roll insulation: Multiple plumbers, hardware stores and big box retailers offer insulation – commonly fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to wrap or fit around your pipes. They are supplied in various lengths and sizes to suit the needs of your home.
- Newspaper: To a decent degree, newspaper can be used for insulation. If the weather is getting colder and you aren’t able to add insulation soon enough, 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 may be just enough to keep the cold air away from the pipes.
An additional preventative step you can take to keep pipes from being covered in ice is to seal up any cracks that can permit cold air inside your home. Focus on the window frames, which can let in surprisingly strong drafts. Not only will this help to stop your pipes from freezing, but it will have the added 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 flow near the pipes.
- Letting water drip. Keeping a flow of water by letting your faucets trickle even a small amount can help prevent frozen pipes.
- Open interior doors. By opening doors between rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more equally. This is especially important if you have a room that is frequently colder or hotter than the remainder of your home.
- Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors advice is the garage door, which you should keep shut – particularly if your water lines are installed under the garage.
- Keep the heat steady. Experts encourage setting the thermostat at a constant temperature and leaving it there, rather than permitting it to get cooler at night. Set it no colder than 55 degrees.
How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home
When you’re inside a house, it’s not difficult to recognize when something isn't right. But what additional steps can you try to keep pipes from freezing in an empty home or vacation home when the consequences 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 first steps to take.
Additional Steps to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Empty 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 switch the thermostat down cooler than you would if you were there. As with a primary house, experts suggest keeping the temperature at no cooler than 55 degrees.
- Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be away for several weeks or are winterizing a rustic cabin or cottage, shutting the water off to the house and emptying the water out of the water lines is one way to prevent pipes from freezing and breaking. Try not to forget to flush the water out of any appliances, like the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. See to it that you empty all the water from the pipes. If you're uncertain of how to clear out the water from the pipes, or don’t feel confident handling it yourself, a plumber in will be delighted to help.