Complete Guide on How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in Winter

September 27, 2022

Snow-covered winter weather brings fun activities like sledding down a nearby hill or snowball fights in the neighbor's yard. At the same time, winter weather can be hard on your home. Extremely cold conditions can cause the water lines in your house's plumbing system to freeze and burst, which may lead to significant water damage and long-lasting negative effects.

If your pipes are frozen, you may want to hire a plumber in Libertyville to fix them. That being said, there’s several tasks you can try to prevent this from happening – and even a little prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at Risk of Freezing

The pipes at the largest risk of freezing are uninsulated water lines. Common locations for uninsulated pipes are in 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 greatest risk.

How to Stop Pipes from Freezing in Your Home

Properly insulating uncovered water lines is a great first step to keeping your pipes ice free. You’ll likely have access to lots of these materials from a local plumbing company, and could also already have some inside your home.

Be mindful not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they might catch fire. If you don’t feel confident insulating the pipes by yourself, contact your local plumbing services professional in Libertyville to get the job done right.

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

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Most plumbers, hardware stores and national retailers offer insulation – usually fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can wrap or fit around your pipes. They are supplied in different lengths and sizes to suit the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: To a decent degree, newspaper can be used as an insulator. If the weather is going to get cold and you aren’t able to add insulation soon enough, try wrapping uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you don't have the chance to install insulation and don’t have any newspaper to use, wrapping particularly vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a last-ditch effort can be just enough to keep the cold air off the pipes.

An additional preventative step you can try to prevent pipes from freezing in your home is to seal up any cracks that could permit cold air inside your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can let in surprisingly intense drafts. Not only should this help to stop your pipes from freezing, but it will have the extra 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. Keeping a flow of water by letting your faucets trickle even just a bit can help thwart frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors between rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more evenly. This is especially important if there's a room that is generally colder or hotter than the remainder of your 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 recommend setting the thermostat at a constant temperature and leaving it in place, rather than allowing it to get colder at night. Set it no colder than 55 degrees.

How to Stop Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

When you’re at home, it’s easier to know when something goes wrong. But what additional steps can you try to stop pipes from freezing in an unused home or vacation home when the consequences from a frozen pipe can remain unnoticed for a while?

As with your primary residence, adding insulation to any exposed water lines, opening interior doors in the home and winterizing the vacant home are the best steps to take.

Additional Steps to Keep Pipes from Freezing in an Unused 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 cooler than you would if you were there. As with a primary home, experts recommend keeping the temperature at no colder than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be away for a long time or are winterizing a rustic cabin or cottage, shutting the water off to the house and draining the water out of the water lines is one way to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting open. Remember to drain the water out of any appliances, including the hot water heater, and the toilets. Confirm you get all the water from the system. If you're uncertain of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure handling it yourself, a plumber in Libertyville will be delighted to help.