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How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

One thing you should know about water is that when it freezes, it expands. When water is in liquid form it will fill nearly any space it occupies. But, if it freezes it exerts a tremendous amount of pressure on its surroundings.

Water freezing in your home can put pressure on the plumbing and cause pipes to burst, causing long-term damage to your home.

Usually, if your home is heated, most of the pipes aren’t in danger of freezing. But, any pipe that is exposed to the cold - swimming pool lines, sprinkler lines, and hose nozzles - are much more likely to freeze and burst. You should also watch out for basements and crawl spaces as they are often not heated directly. Other areas, such as garages or kitchen cabinets, are also common locations for bursting pipes.

When cold weather is coming there are steps that can be taken to protect the pipes from freezing. Before winter hits, here are a few tips for preparing the pipes in your home!

  • Drain water from sprinkler systems

  • Lower the water level in your pool or drain it.

  • Unscrew your garden hoses and store them indoors.

  • Close off inside valves to outside nozzles, to prevent them from freezing.

  • Insulate areas of your home that may not have as much heat, such as a crawl space.

  • Install pipe sleeves which can increase the temperature of the pipe and prevent freezing.

  • If you have an area that consistently freezes and has no protection, then it might be a good decision to have the pipe relocated.

  • Keep your garage door closed during the cold winter months.

  • Keep the cabinet doors open in your kitchen and bathrooms. This will allow warm air to keep the pipes from freezing. If the weather is very cold, then you can leave a small trickle of water running. Even this small amount of water generates enough movement to prevent the water from freezing inside the pipes.

  • It might also be necessary to keep the thermostat at the same temperature during the day and night. It will cost more, but repairing a burst pipe or water damage is more expensive than the extra cost of the heat.

  • If you are going on vacation or won’t be at home for a period of time, set your thermostat at 55. This temperature should prevent the freezing of pipes. If you are out of town, have someone regularly check your home.

If you do have a frozen pipe, there are a couple of things you can do to try to thaw it out.

  • Keep the faucet open so that when the pipe starts to thaw it won’t cause it to burst and damage other areas of your home. The movement will also help with the melting process.

  • You can use a heating pad or a space heater to warm the area. Never use a blowtorch, kerosene, propane, or any other open flame heater.

However, if these actions fail or if you can’t find where the pipe is frozen is then you should call a professional plumber immediately. Many of the largest water damage projects are started because no one caught a burst pipe until days later. A burst pipe can release an enormous amount of water and literally ruin an entire home. If your home does suffer any amount of water damage you should call a restoration company immediately to remove all water and prevent addition, long-term damage such as mold.

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