Snow-covered winter weather offers fun activities like sledding down the neighborhood hill or snowball fights in the neighbor's yard. However, winter weather can be tough on your home. Severely cold conditions can cause the water lines in your plumbing to freeze and burst, which may cause significant water damage and lasting negative effects.

Once your pipes are covered in ice, you may want to hire a plumber in to resolve the issue. Nevertheless, there’s a lot you can perform on your own to stop this from happening – and even just a bit of prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at Risk of Freezing

The pipes at the largest risk of freezing are uncovered water lines. Prevalent locations for exposed pipes are within attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running beneath a modular home. Water lines that are not properly insulated are at the highest risk.

How to Prevent Pipes from Becoming Frozen in Your Home

Thoroughly insulating uncovered water lines is a good first step to keeping your pipes ice free. You’ll likely find most of these materials from your local plumbing company, and might also already have some someplace in your home.

Try not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they may light on fire. If you don’t feel comfortable insulating the pipes yourself, get in touch with your local plumbing services professional in to handle the job.

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

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Multiple plumbers, hardware stores and large retailers provide insulation – typically fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to cover or fit around your pipes. They are supplied in numerous lengths and sizes to satisfy the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: To a decent degree, newspaper can be used for insulation. If the weather is going to get cold and you aren’t able to put in more insulation before then, wrap uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you don't have the chance to install insulation and don’t have any newspaper close by, wrapping especially 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 take to keep pipes from freezing in your home is to fill any cracks that can allow cold air inside your home. Keep an eye on the window frames, which can draw in surprisingly powerful drafts. This not only will help to keep 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 plumbing will permit more warm air from the rest of the room to get to the pipes.
  • Letting water drip. Letting water flow by letting your faucets move even a small amount can help prevent 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 struggle with 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 closed – especially if your water lines can be found near or under the garage.
  • Keep the heat consistent. Experts recommend setting the thermostat at a stable temperature and leaving it alone, rather than allowing it to get cooler at night. Set it no cooler than 55 degrees.

How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

When you’re inside a house, it’s not difficult to recognize when something isn't right. But what additional steps can you take to prevent pipes from freezing in an empty home or vacation home when the damage from a frozen pipe may not be discovered for some time?

As with a primary residence, insulating any exposed water lines, opening interior doors in the home and winterizing the vacant home are the first steps to try at first.

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

  1. Leave the heat on. Even though you aren’t going to be there, it’s best to keep the heat on – even if you adjust the thermostat down colder than you would if you were there. As with a primary house, experts suggest keeping the temperature at no lower than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be gone for several weeks or are winterizing a vacation cabin or cottage, turning the water off to the house and emptying the water out of the water lines is a good way to keep pipes from freezing and bursting. Remember to drain the water out of your appliances, like the hot water heater, and the toilets. Confirm you clear out all the water from the system. If you are not sure of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure handling it without any help, a plumber in will be glad to offer support.