Complete Guide on How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in Winter

September 27, 2022

Lots of snow and winter weather offers a fun day sledding down the neighborhood hill or snowball fights in the front yard. That being said, winter weather can be hard on your home. Excessively cold conditions can encourage the water lines in your house's plumbing system to freeze and burst, which may result in severe water damage and lasting negative effects.

Once your pipes are frozen solid, you might need to contact a plumber in Ellsworth to fix them. That being said, there’s a lot you can attempt to prevent this from happening – and even a little prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at More Risk of Freezing

The pipes at the greatest risk of freezing are uninsulated water lines. Frequent locations for exposed pipes are inside attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running underneath a modular home. Water lines that are not appropriately insulated are at the highest risk.

How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in Your Home

Thoroughly insulating exposed water lines is a great first step to keeping your pipes safe. You’ll likely have access to many of these materials from a local plumbing company, and might also already have some someplace in your home.

Be careful not to wrap up other flammable insulation materials where they can be caught on fire. If you don’t feel safe insulating the pipes by yourself, get in touch with your local plumbing services professional in Ellsworth to handle the job.

If you do prefer to insulate the pipes yourself, good insulation materials for pipes are:

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Many plumbers, hardware stores and big box retailers sell insulation – usually fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to cover or fit around your pipes. They are offered in numerous lengths and sizes to fit the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: To a decent degree, newspaper can be used as insulation. If the weather is getting colder and you aren’t able to put in more insulation before then, consider covering uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you don't have the chance to add insulation and don’t have any newspaper close by, wrapping especially vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort could be just enough to keep the cold air off the pipes.

An additional preventative step you can try to stop pipes from being covered in ice is to seal any cracks that may permit cold air into your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can let in surprisingly strong drafts. This not only will help to keep 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 plumbing will enable more warm air from the rest of the room to get to the pipes.
  • Letting water drip. Letting water flow by letting your faucets drip even just a little can help avoid frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors between rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more consistently. This is mostly important if there's a room that tends to be colder or hotter than the remainder of your home.
  • Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors recommendation is the garage door, which you should keep closed – particularly if your water lines can be found near or under the garage.
  • Keep the heat steady. Experts recommend setting the thermostat at a uniform temperature and leaving it alone, rather than permitting it to get colder at night. Set it no colder than 55 degrees.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

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

As with your primary residence, insulating any exposed water lines, opening interior doors throughout the home and winterizing the vacant home are the basic steps to attempt first.

Additional Steps to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant 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 turn the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary residence, experts recommend keeping the temperature at no colder than 55 degrees.
  2. 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, turning the water off to the house and draining the water out of the water lines is one way to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. Try not to forget to flush the water out of any appliances, such as the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. Confirm you empty all the water from the plumbing. If you're uncertain of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel comfortable performing it without any help, a plumber in Ellsworth will be glad to assist.