Prepare Your Pipes For the First Frost of the Season

Prepare Your Pipes For the First Frost of the Season

It’s right around the time that most regions in the country are going to experience the first frost of the season.  That means it’s time to start thinking about winterizing the home. In particular, this means protecting any and all pipes that are exposed to the elements. Here are some things to keep in mind when winterizing your home.

When to Expect First Frost

Before preparing to winterize your home, it’s important to be aware of when you might expect the first frost in your area.  With this in mind, you’ll be able to plan ahead and set up a schedule for the winterization that is completed in time.  For our purposes, we’re defining frost as a freeze with temps ranging from 29-32 degrees Fahrenheit.


Pipe Freezing

When you winterize your home, the main issue you’re guarding against is the freezing of your home’s pipes.  Why is this a problem?  When water freezes, it expands. This creates great pressure in the surfaces that contain the water, such as metal or plastic pipes.  Regardless of how strong the container may be, expanding water is always problematic.  Ultimately, if the pipe freezes, the pipe will break, causing severe damage and high repair costs.

Pipes to look out for

Pipes that are exposed to the severe cold are the most vulnerable. Typically, such pipes are the following:

  • outdoor hose bibs
  • water sprinkler lines
  • water supply pipes in areas that are unheated, such as basements, garages, attics, crawl spaces, and kitchen cabinets.
  • pipes that are against exterior walls with little or no insulation

Protecting External Pipes

  1. Make sure your drain and irrigation system are shut off. Don’t assume that you’re landscaping or lawn irrigation company will do this for you! It’s not a difficult process, and this one step can save you a great deal in terms of stress and repair costs.
  2. Drain and Disconnect outdoor hoses. By disconnecting your hoses from their spigots, water will be able to drain from the pipe itself. Without this, any ice that forms, even from one overnight freeze, can force the pipe or faucet to burst.
  3. Make sure foundation and exterior vents are closed. This is important, as it will keep cold air out of crawl spaces during cold months.


Protecting Internal Pipes

  1. Take care of pipes and faucets in unheated areas. Make sure to insulate any pipes in all places mentioned earlier (garages, attics, etc.)  Wrap these pipes well before temperatures go down.  You can find the necessary insulation materials at most hardware or building supply stores.
  2. Seal off all overlooked openings. Brisk winds blowing through these openings can quickly freeze any water pipes that may be exposed. Don’t plug air vents in the furnace or water heater that are required for proper ventilation. Also, make sure garage doors are closed fully, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  3. Keep the thermostat set evenly. Make sure the thermostat is set to the same temperature for the day and night.
  4. Try and keep cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom open whenever possible. This will allow warm air to circulate into the pipes in the wall in these areas.
  5. Know the location of the master water shut-off valve. If a pipe should burst, you’ll need to access this valve and shut off the water supply immediately. Doing so will save your home from irreparable water damage. Make sure everyone in the family knows where it is.


If you’re a homeowner, winterizing your home is essential. By following the steps outlined above, you’ll guard against water damage that could potentially ruin your most valuable investment.