Complete Guide on How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in Winter

September 27, 2022

Lots of snow and winter weather offers fun activities like sledding down the highest hill or snowball fights in the back yard. That being said, winter weather can be tough on your home. Extremely cold conditions can cause the water lines in your home to freeze and burst, which may cause serious water damage and long-lasting negative effects.

When your pipes are covered in ice, you should call a plumber in Greater Richmond to fix them. Nevertheless, there’s a lot you can attempt to keep this from happening – and even a little prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at a Higher Chance of Freezing

The pipes at the greatest risk of freezing are uncovered 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 properly insulated are at the greatest risk.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in Your Home

Sufficently insulating exposed water lines is a great first step to keeping your pipes safe. You’ll often find most of these materials from a local plumbing company, and may also already have some someplace in your home.

Be mindful not to wrap up other flammable insulation materials where they might be caught on fire. If you don’t feel confident insulating the pipes by yourself, contact your local plumbing services professional in Greater Richmond to do the job.

If you do choose to insulate the pipes yourself, good insulation materials for pipes include:

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Lots of plumbers, hardware stores and national retailers sell insulation – commonly fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to cover or fit around your pipes. They are supplied in different lengths and sizes to suit the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: To some degree, newspaper can be used for insulation. If the weather is going to get cold and you aren’t able to buy insulation soon enough, consider covering uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you don't have the chance to buy insulation and don’t have any newspaper to use, wrapping particularly vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort can be just enough to keep the cold air from freezing the pipes.

Another preventative step you can attempt to prevent pipes from being covered in ice is to fill any cracks that may let cold air inside your home. Keep an eye on the window frames, which can allow in surprisingly strong drafts. Not only should this 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 beneath the sinks and other spaces of your home that have pipes will allow more warm air from the rest of the room to flow near the pipes.
  • Letting water drip. Letting water flow by letting your faucets trickle even a small amount can help thwart frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors for rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more equally. This is particularly important if you struggle with a room that tends to be colder or hotter than the rest of the home.
  • Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors advice is the garage door, which you should keep shut – particularly if your water lines run through the garage.
  • Keep the heat flowing. Experts encourage setting the thermostat at a uniform temperature and leaving it there, rather than letting it get cooler at night. Set it no cooler than 55 degrees.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Empty Home

When you’re in your own home, it’s not difficult to recognize when something goes wrong. But what extra steps can you attempt to stop pipes from freezing in an empty home or vacation home when the damages from a frozen pipe may not be discovered for days or even weeks?

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

Additional Steps to Keep Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home:

  1. Leave the heat on. Even though you won't always be home, it’s best to keep the heat on – even if you switch the thermostat down colder than you would if you were there. As with a primary residence, experts suggest keeping the temperature at no colder than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be gone for a long time or are winterizing a seasonal cabin or cottage, switching the water off to the house and emptying the water out of the water lines is one way to keep pipes from freezing and bursting open. Don’t forget to clear the water out of your appliances, like the hot water heater, or the toilets. Make sure you clear out all the water from the system. If you're uncertain of how to drain the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure handling it on your own, a plumber in Greater Richmond will be delighted to step in.