5 Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipes

As frigid temperatures settle in, your first instinct is to turn up the heat, grab a blanket and cozy up with hot drinks. Don’t forget that your pipes are vulnerable to freezing at this time of year.

When temperatures are low during winter months, your pipes may have a higher chance of freezing or bursting. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety reported that burst pipes are an especially common cause of property and water damage, costing homeowners upwards of $5,000 to repair.

The good news is that there are preventative measures you can take to help avoid hefty repair bills and keep your water running smoothly. For example:

  1. Set the thermostat

Be sure to keep your thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night. While you may be used to turning the heat down when you sleep, this should be avoided as the outdoor temperatures decrease during these hours.

  1. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinets

This step allows the warm air from inside your home to reach the pipes under sinks and appliances, especially overnight. An important reminder from Consumer Reports: Remove harmful cleaners or chemicals from these cabinets if you have small children at home.

  1. Let cold water run

When it’s especially chilly outside, let the cold water drip from the faucets for a few minutes. Running water through pipes, especially exposed ones, is an especially effective way to prevent them from freezing.

  1. Keep garage doors closed

Blocking the garage from the chilly air is especially important if this is where your water supply lines are located.

  1. Insulate everywhere

The best long-term solution to avoid frozen pipes is to add proper insulation in your attic, basement and crawl space. It’s also important to seal doors and windows to prevent drafts of cold outdoor air sneaking inside. You can also use foam pipe insulation or heat tape to wrap exposed plumbing.

If your pipes freeze despite your best preventative efforts, you may be able to save them before they burst. Leave the faucet on – even if there isn’t any water flowing. Start heating the pipes closest to the faucet, using a hair dryer, electric heating pad, space heater or towels soaked in hot water. If the water doesn’t start flowing, leave the faucet on and call a licensed plumber for help.

Being prepared before home repair issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help you pay for covered water, sewer and other service line repairs.

My water pipes froze – now what do I do?

Frozen PipeAs bitter cold sets in across the nation, frozen pipes are a frequent problem for many homeowners and businesses. While frozen pipes are common, they are also very preventable during the winter months because a little effort can go a long way in preventing home destruction from a burst water pipe.

Let the heat in.

Plumbing located outside the house is the most susceptible to freezing because of the cold air. If possible, open cabinet doors to let warm air run to the pipes in the kitchen and bathroom. Consider pointing a space heater near the pipes to ensure there is ample heat around the plumbing.

Don’t turn down the thermostat.

Many people turn down the thermostat when heading to bed or work, but winter is not the time to do this. While it could help your heating bill, the chance of frozen pipes is much higher the cooler the house gets. Additionally, if you’re away or sleeping and the pipes burst, it could create more of a mess. During the winter months, nighttime is usually the coldest part of the day which could cause pipes to freeze.

Going on vacation? Don’t turn off the heat, but do turn off the water.

While it may seem like a waste of money to heat a home while you are away, leaving the heat on and set around 50 degrees Fahrenheit will decrease the chance of pipes freezing. To further decrease your odds of frozen pipes, do turn off the water while you’re away. While it’s possible a water pipe could freeze and break while you’re gone, the damage will be less due to the limited water available in the pipe, creating less problems.

A drip can save you from disasters.

During the coldest days, it’s a good idea to leave the faucet trickle to help keep water moving through the pipes. Moving water is more difficult to freeze, thus decreasing the chances of a frozen pipe.

If you suspect you have a frozen pipe, please contact your warranty provider (if applicable) or a local plumber to address the situation. Attempts to unthaw the pipe on your own could cause cracks in the pipe or cause it to burst.