How to prevent your pipes from freezing
How to Prevent Freezing Pipes
Water expands when it freezes and the pipes that serve your home are no match to the strength of ice. Check out our tips below on how to prepare for freezing conditions and protect your home.
Tips to Prevent Freezing Pipes
- Disconnect all gardening hoses and install covers on all outside faucets. If you don’t have a faucet covers, use a sock or two.
- This is not the time to save on the heating bill. Keep the temperature of your home at 68 degrees or higher, even if you’re leaving the house for an extended period of time.
- Freak out your family by opening all the cabinets under the sinks in your kitchen and bathrooms. Don’t tell them you are doing it. Just watch them stop in their tracks when they see all the cabinets and drawers open. There is nothing that says preventing pipes from freezing can’t be fun. Don’t forget the cabinets in your basement bathroom. This will allow the heat in your home to circulate around those pipes. If you have young kids, put those cleaning products somewhere else and out of reach.
- Find the location of the main water valve and the valve on your water heater. This information could be important in case of an emergency. You may also want to find the number of a plumber just in case.
- Wrap pipes nearest exterior walls and in crawl spaces with pipe insulation or with heating tape. If you do not have pipe sleeves or heated tape, even just a 1/4″ of newspaper can be extremely helpful for keeping pipes insulated. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
- Make sure all the windows near water pipes are closed and cover or close open-air vents that let air in from the outside. You do not want wind drafts coming inside your home as they can cause pipes to freeze more frequently.
- Heat your basement and consider weather sealing your windows.
- Insulate outside walls and unheated areas of your home.
- If you plan to be away from home for an extended period of time, shut off water supply valves to your washing machine.
- If you have a swimming pool or sprinkler system, drain water from those supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed.
- Resolve to not open your garage doors until the temperature is high enough.
Tips to Monitor Pipe Conditions
- Keep the water moving! Allow a faucet to drip lukewarm water to reduce the risk of freezing.
- If you notice that only a trickle of water comes out of a faucet, you can suspect a frozen pipe.
- Check your faucets often for water flow and pressure.
- The pipes in unheated areas, like around your water meter and near exterior walls and in crawl spaces, are the most vulnerable. Check those often as well.
- Make sure no cold air drafts are coming in from a flue or chimney chase. Caulk any gaps that are near pipes.
What to do if a Pipe Freezes
- If you suspect a pipe inside your house is frozen, a blow dryer can be your best friend. You could also use a heating pad. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device. That’s just dumb.
- Begin the thawing process closest to the faucet. Be sure the faucet is still turned on so the melting water can drip out.
What to do if a Pipe Bursts
- Remember locating the main water value? Go there and shut off water.
- If the break is in a hot water pipe, the valve on top of the water heater should be closed.
- Call the plumber.
Focus on the Pipes in these locations:
Outdoor hose bibs
Swimming pool supply lines
Water sprinkler lines
Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets
Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation
How to Prevent Freezing Pipes in the Future
Having an insulated crawl space and basement will not only reduce your heating bill year round, it will also greatly reduce your risk of freezing pipes.