The snowy winter weather brings things like sledding down a nearby hill or snowball fights in the front yard. That being said, winter weather can be hard on your home. Severely cold conditions can cause the water lines in your plumbing to freeze and burst, which could lead to serious water damage and lasting negative effects.

When your pipes are covered in ice, you might need to call a plumber in to resolve the issue. That being said, there’s several tasks you can try to keep 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 uncovered pipes are inside attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running underneath a modular home. Water lines that are not correctly insulated are at the highest risk.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in Your Home

Sufficiently insulating exposed water lines is a good first step to keeping your pipes ice free. You’ll likely have access to lots of these materials from the local plumbing company, and might also already have some somewhere in your home.

Try not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they might catch fire. If you don’t feel safe insulating the pipes by yourself, contact your local plumbing services professional in to do the job.

If you do choose to insulate the pipes yourself, popular insulation materials for pipes consist of:

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Most plumbers, hardware stores and large retailers sell insulation – commonly fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can wrap or fit around your pipes. They are offered in different lengths and sizes to suit 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 add insulation soon enough, try wrapping uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you aren’t able to add insulation and don’t have any newspaper close by, wrapping notably vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a last-ditch effort may be just enough to keep the cold air off the pipes.

Another preventative step you can attempt to keep pipes from freezing in your home is to seal up any cracks that could let cold air in your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can let in surprisingly powerful drafts. Not only should this help to stop your pipes from freezing, but it will have the added 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 underneath the sinks and other spaces of your home with pipes will enable more warm air from the rest of the room to reach the pipes.
  • Letting water drip. Letting water flow by letting your faucets drip even just a little can help avoid frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors for rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more consistently. This is particularly important if you have a room that is generally colder or hotter than the rest of the home.
  • Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors recommendation is the garage door, which you should keep down – namely if your water lines are installed under the garage.
  • Keep the heat flowing. Experts encourage setting the thermostat at a constant temperature and leaving it there, rather than letting it get lower at night. Set it no cooler than 55 degrees.

How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

When you’re at home, it’s easy to recognize when something breaks down. But what extra steps can you take to prevent pipes from freezing in an empty home or vacation home when the damages from a frozen pipe can remain unnoticed for days or even weeks?

As with a primary residence, placing extra insulation around any exposed water lines, opening interior doors inside the home and winterizing the vacant home are the first steps to try at first.

Alternative Steps to Stop Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home:

  1. Leave the heat on. Even though you won't always be home, it’s best to leave the heat on – even if you adjust the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary residence, experts recommend keeping the temperature at no cooler than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be gone for a long time or are winterizing a rustic cabin or cottage, switching the water off to the house and emptying the water out of the water lines is an easy way to keep pipes from freezing and bursting. Try not to forget to flush the water out of your appliances, like the hot water heater, and the toilets. See to it that you clear out all the water from the pipes. If you are not sure of how to drain the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure doing it on your own, a plumber in will be delighted to offer support.