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How Freezing Pipes Damage Your Foundation

Updated Nov 2, 2022

Updated Nov 2, 2022

Home > Foundation > How Freezing Pipes Damage Your Foundation

Dropping outside temperatures can cause your pipes to freeze, thaw, and freeze again, creating a damaging cycle that can lead to pipes bursting.

Burst pipes are a severe hazard to your foundation and home’s structure. A burst pipe can weaken insulation, floors, ceilings, sheetrock, wood, and much more, putting you, as a homeowner, at risk of expensive foundation repairs.

Why Do Freezing Pipes Put My Foundation at Risk?


Freezing pipes puts your foundation at risk because it creates a vulnerability within your pipes, which may lead to leaks or bursts. Frozen pipes may also burst and cause massive amounts of water damage.

Pipes are often located under your house in a crawl space, where electrical wiring, wooden support beams, exterior walls, and other crucial parts of your home’s foundation reside.

Here are a few ways that freezing pipes puts your foundation at risk:

  • Carpet that is exposed to leaking water from pipes can get waterlogged and develop mold. Tile flooring and tiles may loosen, requiring repairs or replacement. If the moisture seeps past your flooring, the water may reach your crawl space, causing additional damage to your foundation.
  • Your electrical system may be exposed to water, potentially causing deadly sparks and a fire hazard. An electrical system shortage may even result in a house fire, putting you and your family at significant risk.
  • Wooden support beams may fall apart or rot from the excess moisture in the air.
  • Freezing pipes can cause the surrounding area to grow mold. Mold and mildew can even hide in your walls, cause wood rot, and break down the structural elements.
  • Water may seep into minor foundation cracks, leading to the concrete foundation breaking down.
  • Water expands when it freezes. Water pipes that freeze regularly are at a heightened risk of bursting because the frozen water leads to tremendous water pressure.

Over time, the house’s foundation system may fail through water damage from broken pipes. The foundation problems caused can lead to expensive repairs.

Signs of Frozen Pipes

The best way to prevent costly repairs from frozen pipes is to catch the problem early on before expensive issues occur.

Signs of frozen pipes: 

  • Cold weather: Outside temperatures below 32°F may lead to frozen pipes, especially if you have poor insulation or exposed water pipes. Several days of winter weather puts your pipes at considerable risk, so monitor your pipes closely and consider using a space heater near your pipes to ensure the water lines don’t freeze.
  • Unpleasant smells: If water can’t flow freely through your pipes or the pipes freeze completely, you’ll likely start smelling unpleasant odors, such as sewage smells or mildew.
  • No running water: Frozen pipes prevent your water supply lines from providing water to your faucets, showers, and other water appliances. The water may come out as a trickle or stop entirely. If you notice the water flow changes, immediately check your pipes.
  • Frozen condensation: Assess your indoor plumbing. Is there frosty condensation on it? Your pipes are likely frozen or starting to freeze if you notice any frost on the outside of the pipes.
  • Watch your garden: As cold air hits your home, watch your garden and landscaping for frost heaves. Frost heaves are a type of frost action where water freezes and thaws in rock and soil. If your soil is freezing and thawing, keep a close eye on your pipes which may also be experiencing frost.

How To Keep Your Pipes From Freezing


Take these crucial steps to keep your pipes from freezing, so you can avoid frozen pipes in the first place:

  • Add extra insulation to your crawl spaces, basement, attic, and anywhere else you have pipes or heat escapes. Insulation will keep your pipes warmer, helping to prevent freezing.
  • Keep your home warm. If you know temperatures are dropping soon, crank your thermostat up a few degrees and turn the heat on to keep yourself and your pipes warm.
  • Schedule an appointment with a plumber. A plumber can catch minor problems before they develop into major issues. Have your pipes regularly inspected for leaks or needed repairs.
  • Install products to insulate water pipes, such as heat tape, pipe sleeves, or heat cables. Any of these products can provide extra insulation.
  • Monitor your water pipes closely. If the pipes begin to freeze, warm them with a space heater or hair dryer. Open your vanities, dressers, and cupboards to help warm the air in your home and pipes.

Closing Thoughts

If you’re concerned that you already have damage to your home’s foundation, schedule a foundation inspection to have it inspected for cracks, rotting wood, or damaged electrical wiring. Your home’s foundation is crucial to its integrity, and an inspection can give you peace of mind.

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