How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Having your pipes freeze is one of the worst things that can happen to your home during the winter. And while it’s still a little early (and unusually warm) to be talking about winter, there are things you should be doing now to prevent potentially major disasters when the temperatures do finally drop!

What’s the problem with frozen pipes?

When water freezes in a pipe, it expands and can exert pressure over 2,000 pounds per square inch. This pressure is enough to rupture most any pipe filled with water, which provides no place for the ice to expand.

When the pipe bursts, it will spill several hundred gallons of water per hour, which can in turn lead to thousands of dollars of damage to your home. Sad when you consider how easy it is to prevent a frozen water pipe.

What causes pipes to freeze?

Pipes located in an outside wall, under a sink on an outside wall, or in an unheated crawl space are the most susceptible to freezing and are thus at the highest risk of damage. There are three major reasons that pipes freeze:

  • Sudden drops in temperature
  • Improper insulation, both in your walls and around your pipes
  • Thermostats set too low

How do I prevent frozen pipes?

The most important thing you can do to prevent your pipes from freezing is keep them from being exposed to cold air. Heat travels from warm things to cold things until the temperature evens out. What this means is that if the air around your pipes gets too cold, warm water in the pipes will bleed heat until it eventually freezes.

Add insulation

Adding insulation in the walls and around the pipes is crucial to preventing them from freezing. Even if you live in an area where pipes don’t freeze often, you should still make sure your home’s attic and any crawl spaces are insulated to keep heat inside and keep your pipes warm. Remember that exposed pipes are the most at risk for freezing!

You should use foam pipe insulators, heat tape, or other controlled heat cables to insulate the pipes themselves. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when doing this and be sure the products are approved for where you want to use them (indoors or outdoors).

Seal air leaks

Seal up any air leaks near where pipes are located. Particular areas to look at include electrical outlets, dryer vents, and pipes. You can seal these spaces up with caulk or insulation. When it gets really cold, even a tiny crack can let in enough cold air to cause pipes to freeze up. You’ll save money on your heating bills with this one too!

Disconnect hoses

Finally, make sure you disconnect any garden hoses outside and, if you can, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain any water from pipes leading to outdoor faucets. This will reduce the chance of your hose bibbs freezing.

Taking steps to prevent your pipes from freezing will save you some major hassles down the road. For more winter prep tips, or to schedule a fall plumbing inspection, call R.V. Carey’s today!