Complete Guide on How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in Winter

September 27, 2022

Snow-covered winter weather brings a fun day sledding down the highest hill or snowball fights in the neighbor's yard. At the same time, winter weather can be difficult on your home. Excessively cold conditions can cause the water lines in your plumbing to freeze and burst, which may cause serious water damage and long-lasting negative effects.

When your pipes are frozen solid, you might need to contact a plumber in New Castle to handle the problem. However, there’s several tasks you can perform on your own to prevent this from happening – and even a little 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. Common locations for uncovered pipes are in attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running beneath a modular home. Water lines that are not appropriately insulated are at the highest risk.

How to Keep Pipes from Becoming Frozen in Your Home

Properly insulating exposed water lines is a solid first step to keeping your pipes free of ice. You’ll often find lots of these materials from a local plumbing company, and could also already have some somewhere in your home.

Try not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they might light on fire. If you don’t feel safe insulating the pipes on your own, contact your local plumbing services professional in New Castle to do the job.

If you do decide to insulate the pipes yourself, popular insulation materials for pipes consist of:

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Many plumbers, hardware stores and national retailers sell insulation – typically fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to wrap or fit around your pipes. They are offered in differing lengths and sizes to suit the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: In a pinch, newspaper can be used as insulation. If the weather is going to get cold and you aren’t able to put in more insulation soon enough, consider covering uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you miss the opportunity to add insulation and don’t have any newspaper close by, wrapping especially vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a last-ditch effort could be just enough to keep the cold air off the pipes.

Another preventative step you can try to keep pipes from becoming frozen is to fill any cracks that can permit cold air into your home. Focus on the window frames, which can draw in surprisingly strong drafts. Not only will this help to prevent 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 spaces of your home with pipes will allow 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 bit can help thwart frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors for rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more evenly. This is mostly important if you have a room that is generally 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 down – especially if your water lines are installed under the garage.
  • Keep the heat steady. Experts suggest setting the thermostat at a constant temperature and leaving it in place, rather than allowing it to get cooler at night. Set it no lower than 55 degrees.

How to Stop Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

When you’re in your own home, it’s easier to realize when something isn't right. But what additional steps can you try to keep pipes from freezing in an unused home or vacation home when the consequences from a frozen pipe might not be discovered for a while?

As with your primary residence, placing extra insulation around any exposed water lines, opening interior doors in the home and winterizing the vacant home are the best steps to attempt first.

Additional Steps to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home:

  1. Leave the heat on. Even though you won't always be home, it’s best to leave the heat on – even if you switch the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary home, experts encourage keeping the temperature at no lower than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be out of the house for an extended period of time 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 open. Remember to drain the water out of any appliances, like the hot water heater, and the toilets. See to it that you empty all the water from the plumbing. If you're uncertain of how to drain the water from the pipes, or don’t feel comfortable handling it on your own, a plumber in New Castle will be glad to help.