Complete Guide on How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in Winter

September 27, 2022

The snowy winter weather brings a fun day sledding down the highest hill or snowball fights in the front yard. That being said, winter weather can be hard on your home. Severely cold conditions can encourage the water lines in your house's plumbing system to freeze and burst, which could result in severe water damage and enduring negative effects.

When your pipes are covered in ice, you may want to call a plumber in Marshalltown to handle the problem. Nevertheless, there’s several tasks you can perform on your own to stop this from happening – and even minor prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at a Higher Chance of Freezing

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

How to Prevent Pipes from Becoming Frozen in Your Home

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

Be mindful not to wrap other flammable insulation materials where they can catch fire. If you don’t feel safe insulating the pipes by yourself, get in touch with your local plumbing services professional in Marshalltown to get the job done right.

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

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Multiple plumbers, hardware stores and big box retailers provide insulation – usually fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to cover or fit around your pipes. They are offered in various lengths and sizes to satisfy the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: To some degree, newspaper can be used as an insulator. If the weather is cooling down and you aren’t able to put in more insulation soon enough, try wrapping 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 last-ditch effort can be just enough to keep the cold air off the pipes.

An additional preventative step you can try to keep pipes from freezing in your home is to seal up any cracks that could permit cold air inside your home. Focus on the window frames, which can draw 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 under the sinks and other areas of your home with pipes will permit more warm air from the rest of the room to flow near the pipes.
  • Letting water drip. Keeping the water flowing by letting your faucets trickle even a small amount can help thwart frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors between rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more consistently. This is particularly important if you have 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 advice is the garage door, which you should keep down – particularly if your water lines run through the garage.
  • Keep the heat steady. Experts recommend setting the thermostat at a persistent temperature and leaving it in place, rather than allowing it to get colder at night. Set it no cooler than 55 degrees.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

When you’re inside a house, it’s not difficult to recognize when something goes wrong. But what extra steps can you take to stop pipes from freezing in an unused home or vacation home when the damage from a frozen pipe may 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 try at first.

Other Steps to Keep 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 keep the heat on – even if you turn the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary home, experts recommend 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 rustic cabin or cottage, turning the water off to the house and draining the water out of the water lines is one way to stop pipes from freezing and breaking. Try not to forget to clear the water out of all appliances, including the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. Make sure you get all the water from the plumbing. If you're uncertain of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure doing it yourself, a plumber in Marshalltown will be glad to offer support.