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

If your pipes are covered in ice, you may want to call a plumber in Marshalltown to fix them. That being said, there’s a lot you can do to stop this from happening – and even minor prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at More Risk of Freezing

The pipes at the highest risk of freezing are uninsulated water lines. Prevalent 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 greatest risk.

How to Stop Pipes from Freezing in Your Home

Thoroughly insulating exposed water lines is a great first step to keeping your pipes ice free. You’ll generally locate many of these materials from a local plumbing company, and may also already have some inside your home.

Be mindful not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they may light on fire. If you don’t feel confident insulating the pipes on your own, call your local plumbing services professional in Marshalltown to get the job done right.

If you do choose to insulate the pipes on your own, popular insulation materials for pipes include:

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Most plumbers, hardware stores and national retailers provide insulation – typically fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can wrap or fit around your pipes. They are sold in different lengths and sizes to satisfy the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: To some degree, newspaper can be used for insulation. If the weather is going to get cold and you aren’t able to add insulation soon enough, try wrapping uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you aren’t able to add insulation and don’t have any newspaper close by, wrapping especially vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort can be just enough to keep the cold air off the pipes.

One other preventative step you can try to stop pipes from becoming frozen is to fill any cracks that could allow cold air inside your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can let in surprisingly powerful drafts. Not only should this help to prevent your pipes from freezing, but it will have the extra 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 underneath the sinks and other areas of your home with pipes will permit more warm air from the rest of the room to reach the pipes.
  • Letting water drip. Keeping the water flowing by letting your faucets move even just a bit can help avoid frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors in rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more consistently. This is especially important if you have a room that tends to be colder or hotter than other rooms.
  • Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors tip is the garage door, which you should keep closed – especially if your water lines can be found near or under the garage.
  • Keep the heat flowing. Experts recommend setting the thermostat at a persistent temperature and leaving it alone, rather than letting it get lower at night. Set it no cooler than 55 degrees.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

When you’re at home, it’s not difficult to know when something isn't right. But what added steps can you take to stop pipes from freezing in a vacant home or vacation home when the consequences from a frozen pipe may not be discovered for some time?

As with the main residence, insulating any exposed water lines, opening interior doors inside the home and winterizing the vacant home are the first steps to attempt first.

Additional Steps to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home:

  1. Leave the heat on. Even though you aren’t going to be there, 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 house, experts suggest keeping the temperature at no lower than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be away for a long time or are winterizing a vacation 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. Don’t forget to clear the water out of any appliances, like the hot water heater, or the toilets. Make sure you empty all the water from the pipes. If you are not sure of how to clear out the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure doing it yourself, a plumber in Marshalltown will be happy to help.