frozen pipes during winter
  • How to Protect Pipes from Freezing and Bursting this Winter Season

Featured Image Caption: Frozen Pipes during Winter

Winter is more than just a season of warm hearths and holiday cheer; it’s also a time when sub-zero temperatures can wreak havoc on your home’s plumbing. When water freezes in your pipes, it expands, often causing the pipes to burst—and when they thaw, that’s when the damage starts.

Therefore, it’s an essential measure to protect your plumbing so your home remains comfortable and safe throughout the colder months. Here are the essential steps you need to take to safeguard your home’s pipes this winter. Let’s start!

Insulate Exposed Pipes

A good offense is the best defense, and that’s particularly true when dealing with the threat of frozen pipes. To start, check the layout of your plumbing system – you’re looking for areas where your pipes are most exposed to the cold.

Any plumbing that runs along exterior walls, in unheated crawl spaces, or your garage could be at risk. To protect these vulnerable areas, insulate your pipes with foam pipe insulation. This is a cost-effective solution to guard against the chill and prevent the water inside from freezing.

Keep Your Home Warm

An obvious but crucial step in pipe protection is keeping your home adequately heated. Inside temperatures should stay above 55 degrees Fahrenheit, especially when you’re away. If you plan to be out of town during the winter, it’s essential to leave the heat on and set it no lower than 55 degrees.

Seal Air Leaks

Inspect your home for any air leaks that allow cold air to come into contact with your pipes. Common culprits include electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes. Use caulking or insulation to seal these leaks and prevent the cold air from getting in.

By keeping the cold out and the warmth in, you reduce the chances of your pipes freezing and potentially bursting. This step doesn’t just help protect your plumbing; it also assists in energy conservation, saving you money on heating bills.

Let Faucets Drip, But Just a Bit

On particularly frigid nights, allow your faucets to drip slightly. The running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent the water in your pipes from freezing. It relieves pressure in the system, which can build up if a pipe does freeze. This is particularly effective for faucets served by exposed pipes that run through unheated or uninsulated spaces like the basement.

Serve Your Sprinkler System

Don’t neglect your sprinkler system when prepping for the cold. Any water left in these pipes can freeze, expand, and cause damage, much like your indoor plumbing. Shut off the water supply to your sprinkler system and drain the lines, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Pay Attention to Thermostat Setbacks

Programmable thermostats are a dream for energy conservation and cost-cutting. However, be cautious with aggressive thermostat setbacks during extremely cold periods. A drastic drop in temperature overnight can lead to frozen pipes, especially if the area that your thermostat monitors for internal temperature isn’t close to your vulnerable pipes.

Open Cabinet Doors

In extremely cold weather, consider opening cabinet doors to allow the heat from your home to reach pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls. This extra warm air can make a significant difference for pipes that might be at risk.

Take Action When the Forecast is Freezing

Proactive attention to the weather reports can save you from significant plumbing damage. When a severe cold snap is on the horizon, take extra precautions. Close your windows, secure your doors, and consider additional insulation methods if you know some areas are vulnerable to freezing. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Disconnect and Drain Outdoor Hoses

Leaving a hose attached to an outdoor faucet can cause water to back up into the pipes inside your wall if it freezes. Before the first frost arrives, disconnect and drain your outdoor hoses. Then, shut off the indoor valve that supplies water to the outdoor connections, and leave the outdoor valve open.

Use Heating Tapes or Cables

For those in areas of extreme cold or with a history of pipe freezing, consider using UL-listed heat tapes or cables for extra precaution. These can be applied directly to the pipes and supply heat directly to the vulnerable area. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and only use products approved for this specific purpose.

Consult Professional Plumbing Services

In addition to taking preventive measures, you can enlist the help of professional plumbing services like BJ Crowley Plumbing Pty Ltd to winterize your home’s pipes. Skilled plumbers can provide a comprehensive inspection to identify any potential issues before they escalate into costly damages. They bring a wealth of expertise in tackling common and complex problems, from insulating pipes to repairing minor leaks.

By being proactive and attentive to these steps, you can safeguard your home’s plumbing and spare yourself the headache of burst pipes and the aftermath of water damage. Remember, the goal is not just to repair the present—it’s to prevent the future.

Addy Reeds

By Addy Reeds
is a freelance writer from Eugene, Oregon. She discovered her passion for journalism while attending the University of Oregon.

Member since March, 2024
View all the articles of Addy Reeds.

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