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How To Keep Pipes From Freezing

Updated Nov 30, 2022

Updated Nov 30, 2022

Home > Maintenance & Renovation > How To Keep Pipes From Freezing

When the temperature drops, your pipes are at risk of freezing and bursting. Burst pipes are one of the most common causes of expensive home repairs during cold winter weather because they cause thousands of dollars in water damage. 

What Happens When Pipes Freeze?

Water expands when it freezes, causing a huge amount of pressure on whatever is holding it, such as your pipes. Even the strongest pipes can break, buckle, and burst from intense water pressure. 

The pipes that are most prone to freezing include: 

  • Pipes that lack adequate insulation and run against exterior walls.
  • Pipes exposed to freezing temperatures, such as water sprinkler lines, swimming pool supply lines, and outdoor hose bibs.
  • Water supply pipes located in unheated indoor areas like crawl spaces, attics, garages, basements, and kitchen cabinets. 

Unfortunately, pipes that freeze can cause a lot of damage, including: 

wintertime icy frozen pipe
Image Source: Canva

How to Keep Pipes from Freezing

Keep Thermostats Set to Warm Consistently

While it can be tempting to save on energy costs by lowering your thermostat during winter, double-check that your thermostat is not set too low, especially if your interior pipes lack adequate insulation to keep them warm. 

Likewise, if you go away during cold weather, keep your thermostat at 60℉ or higher to keep your home and pipes warm enough to prevent freezes. 

Remember, the savings from lowering your thermostat won’t be worth the money lost if your pipes burst and cause massive damage to your home. 

Add Insulation to Your Pipes

Add more insulation if your interior pipes tend to freeze or are located in areas with poor insulation. 

Insulation helps maintain higher temperatures in those spaces, preventing pipe freezes. Insulation will also prevent drafts and help your energy bills. In addition, take a moment to look for cracks and openings in your crawl spaces, basements, and other areas where your pipes are located. If you find any, seal these with additional insulation and caulking to keep heat from escaping. 

If you can’t add more insulation to your pipes or they’re outside, install heat sleeves, heat tape, or other pipe insulation items. Heat shields, heating pads, and heat sleeves are installed on top of your pipes and prevent heat loss, helping your pipes maintain a warmer temperature and hot water running through them.

Use a Portable Space Heater

If your pipes freeze or you’re expecting a cold snap, place a portable space heater near your pipes. The space heater will heat your pipes and reduce their freezing risk. However, avoid a fire hazard by only using a portable space heater or blow-dryer if it’s away from flammable materials. Never use a charcoal stove, blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, or other open flame appliance to warm your pipes, as this is a serious fire hazard.

Let Water Drip from a Faucet

If you have an outdoor faucet served by exposed pipes, allow cold water to drip. Running water through the pipe, even if it’s just a trickle of water, will prevent the pipes from freezing entirely. 

While water drips from the faucet, take other steps to thaw the pipes. 

Close Your Garage Door

Leaving your garage door open exposes your water supply lines to cold air, increasing the risk of freezing. Prevent this by keeping your garage door closed during cold weather. 

Bonus Tip: You can open cabinets, vanities, and cupboards to improve warm air circulation throughout your home, helping to thaw frozen pipes. 

technician installing water pipe insulation
Image Source: Canva

Final Thoughts

If your pipes freeze, immediately take steps to warm them, whether that involves setting up a portable space heater or using a blow-dryer to warm the pipes.

Call a licensed plumber to have your pipes dealt with as quickly as possible to minimize any risk of them bursting and causing serious damage. Calling a plumber will always be cheaper when dealing with a frozen pipe rather than a burst pipe. 

Before cold weather hits, you can even use some other home improvement tips, such as installing additional pipe insulation, to prevent the pipes from freezing altogether. 

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