How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing
Frigid weather makes life miserable.
You can’t go out unless you have layers upon layers of warm clothes. If you have pets it makes it incredibly difficult to keep them entertained and not drive you crazy. And you have your home to consider as well.
Frigid, arctic air can create catastrophes for your home and properties if you don’t know what to do. That is especially true for pipes. If you have ever had a pipe freeze and burst on you, you know how much fun it is clean and pay for the mess.
So what can you do to prevent your pipes from freezing?
Before we answer that question, let’s first explain why freezing pipes are a problem. Since most of the middle states of the country will face some form of frigid air this week it’s best to get this out there now.
According to the American Red Cross, water has a unique property in that when it freezes it expands. That means an incredible amount of pressure on whatever it is that holds the water. In this case, it’s the pipes to your home – metal or plastic. As the Red Cross, no matter the strength of the container, that expansion will cause a burst.
The pipes most likely to freeze are those that are exposed to extreme colds, like outdoor bibs, swimming pool lines, sprinkler system lines and water supply lines in unheated rooms of your house (basements, crawlspaces, attics, garages or kitchen cabinets. The Red Cross adds that pipes that run along the exterior of your home that have little or no insulation are also at risk.
Before the cold hits
These are the measures to take before cold weather hits. If you haven’t done any of these yet, you’re in serious trouble. Still, keep these in mind for next year so you have them.
Disconnect all hoses and install covers on all outside faucets. The Red Cross suggests that you close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break
Drain your swimming pool and “blow out” all water in those same lines. The same goes with your sprinkler system. Do no put antifreeze in your pipes unless directed to do so.
In those areas in your home where you have pipes in unheated areas, add insulation to both cold and hot water pipes. As the Red Cross points out, installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. If you don’t want to do that right away, the Red Cross says even newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes. Another method you can use is if, for example, those pipes are in kitchen or bathroom cabinets, keep the doors open to allow the heat to circulate.
Keep your home set to at least 68 degrees, even if you’re not there.
When the cold hits
Monitor the pipes in your home. One trick is to let your faucet drip lukewarm water. This helps minimize freezing. As the story notes, the first sign of pipe freezing is reduced water flow from the faucet. Check that water flow before you go to bed and when you wake up.
Look for any cold drafts that maybe coming into your home. If you find one, caulk any drafts that near pipes, as the story notes.
If a pipe freezes
You still have some course of action before the pipe bursts, so stay calm and don’t freak out just yet.
The best course of action is to use a hairdryer or start towels soaked in hot water that you wrap around the pipes. Whatever you choose to do, start nearest the faucet and keep it running to ensure the frozen water drains from the pipe.
If a pipe bursts
Turn the water off in your home, and call a plumber.
If you follow these tips and tricks, hopefully, the frigid air won’t wreak havoc on your home.
As for you, that’s another story.