Lots of snow and winter weather presents a great opportunity for a fun day sledding down the neighborhood hill or snowball fights in the back yard. At the same time, winter weather can be tough on your home. Excessively cold conditions can cause the water lines in your plumbing to freeze and burst, which can result in severe water damage and long-lasting negative effects.
If your pipes are frozen solid, you should call a plumber in Pella to resolve the issue. That being said, there’s multiple things you can try to keep this from happening – and even minor prevention can go a long way.
What Pipes Are at More Risk of Freezing
The pipes at the greatest risk of freezing are uninsulated water lines. Prevalent locations for uninsulated pipes are within attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running under a modular home. Water lines that are not correctly insulated are at the greatest risk.
How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing Over in Your Home
Properly insulating exposed water lines is a good first step to keeping your pipes safe. You’ll generally have access to lots of these materials from your local plumbing company, and could also already have some someplace in your home.
Try not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they can be caught on fire. If you don’t feel comfortable insulating the pipes on your own, get in touch with your local plumbing services professional in Pella to handle the job.
If you do decide to insulate the pipes by yourself, common insulation materials for pipes are:
- Wraps or roll insulation: Lots of plumbers, hardware stores and big box retailers offer insulation – typically fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to cover or fit around your pipes. They are sold in differing lengths and sizes to satisfy the needs of your home.
- Newspaper: In a pinch, newspaper can be used for insulation. If the weather is getting colder and you aren’t able to put in more insulation soon enough, wrap uninsulated pipes in this.
- Towels or rags: If you aren’t able to install insulation and don’t have any newspaper to use, wrapping notably vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort could be just enough to keep the cold air off the pipes.
One other preventative step you can attempt to stop pipes from becoming frozen is to seal any cracks that can let cold air in your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can allow in surprisingly powerful drafts. This not only will help to stop your pipes from freezing, but it will have the additional 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 under the sinks and other rooms of your home with pipes will permit more warm air from the rest of the room to reach the pipes.
- Letting water drip. Keeping a flow of water by letting your faucets drip 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 consistently. This is mostly 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 tip is the garage door, which you should keep shut – particularly if your water lines can be found near or under the garage.
- Keep the heat steady. Experts suggest setting the thermostat at a persistent temperature and leaving it there, rather than allowing it to get cooler at night. Set it no lower than 55 degrees.
How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Empty Home
When you’re in your own home, it’s easier to know when something breaks down. But what extra steps can you try to keep pipes from freezing in an unused home or vacation home when the damage from a frozen pipe might not be discovered for some time?
As with the main residence, insulating any exposed water lines, opening interior doors inside the home and winterizing the vacant home are the first steps to attempt first.
Alternative Steps to Stop Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home:
- Leave the heat on. Even though you aren't currently using the home, it’s best to keep the heat on – even if you adjust the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary residence, experts recommend keeping the temperature at no colder than 55 degrees.
- Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be out of the house for several weeks or are winterizing a vacation cabin or cottage, switching the water off to the house and clearing the water out of the water lines is a good way to stop pipes from freezing and bursting open. Remember to flush the water out of all appliances, including the hot water heater, or the toilets. Make sure you get all the water from the pipes. If you're uncertain of how to drain the water from the pipes, or don’t feel confident performing it without any help, a plumber in Pella will be glad to step in.