Air pipes

6 Simple Things You Can Do To Avoid Frozen Pipes This Winter

Winter brings freezing temperatures to much of the country, and when temperatures drop, the water that goes to the faucets and fixtures in your home can freeze inside your pipes. Since water expands when it turns to ice, frozen pipes tend to burst, which can lead to costly water and plumbing damage throughout the home. Pipes that run against exterior walls and those in unheated or uninsulated areas, such as an attic, basement, or garage, are at the greatest risk of freezing.

Before outdoor temperatures drop below freezing, it’s important to understand how to prevent pipes from freezing and take the necessary steps to winterize your home. Read on to learn some simple tips to protect your pipes from freezing and keep water running in cold weather. We’ll also tell you what to do if you suspect your pipes may be frozen, and how to thaw them to avoid a bigger household disaster.

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1. Disconnect the garden hoses.

Once you are done tending to your garden for the season, unplug, drain, and store your hoses. Close all shutoff valves that supply outdoor garden sprinklers and open the outside valve to drain the line. Keep it open all winter to allow any water left in the hose to expand. Consider using faucet covers ($ 4, The Home Depot) during the colder months for extra protection from frozen pipes. In addition, drain the water from all sprinkler supply lines according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Related: Prepare your home for the season with our fall maintenance checklist

2. Insulate your pipes.

Pipe insulation is quite inexpensive and widely available at home improvement stores. Consider insulating all pipes in unheated areas, such as the attic, basement, crawl spaces or garage. In extremely cold weather, pipes under kitchen and bathroom sinks are also vulnerable to freezing. Apply the foam insulation liberally to provide protection from freezing temperatures. Wrapping your pipes in heating tape or thermostatically controlled heating cables ($ 25, Walmart) can also keep them warm enough to prevent freezing.

3. Seal any air leaks.

Inspect your home for any cracks or openings that could let in cold air. Seal all holes around the piping in interior or exterior walls and sill plates, where your home sits on its foundation. Also, since leaving your garage open is like creating a giant air leak, always keep the door closed unless you are entering or exiting.

4. Open doors and cabinets.

Make sure that warm air can circulate evenly throughout your home during cold snaps. Leave interior doors ajar and open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to distribute heat evenly throughout the rooms. Remove any potentially harmful household chemicals or cleaners from open cabinets if you have small children or pets in the home.

5. Let the faucets drain.

Even a small trickle of water can prevent ice from forming inside your pipes. When it is very cold outside, run water from all faucets served by exposed pipes. Letting a few faucets run lightly will also relieve the pressure inside the pipes and help prevent a rupture in the event the water inside freezes.

6. Keep the temperature constant.

Adjust your thermostat to maintain a constant temperature throughout the day and night. In normal weather, lowering your thermostat at night or when you are away from home can help save on heating costs, but in extremely cold weather maintaining a constant temperature is essential to keep your pipes free of. ice. And if you’re away from home on a cold day, make sure your thermostat is set to at least 55 ° F. The few extra dollars you spend on your utility bill will be well worth the thousands you save by avoiding a broken pipe.

What to do if your pipes freeze

If you think you have a frozen pipe, turn on the faucet first. If only a drop or trickle of water comes out, you probably have an ice blockage. Next, carefully inspect the exposed pipe for cracks or breaks. If any pipes have burst, shut off the main water supply to the house and immediately call a plumber for help. Attempting to thaw a pipe that has already burst can cause water to run and flood your home.

If the hose is still intact, turn on the faucet to allow water to drain out while the ice melts. Gently apply heat to the frozen section of the pipe, using a heating pad, hair dryer, radiator, or hot, damp towels. Never use an open flame to heat a frozen pipe, as this presents a fire hazard and may damage the pipe. If you are unable to access or thaw the frozen pipe safely, call a licensed plumber immediately.