A Shopping List for Avoiding Frozen Pipes

A Shopping List for Avoiding Frozen Pipes
Winter is on its way, which means you have some maintenance to do around your home to prepare for the colder weather. One important task is to prep your pipes for freezing temperatures. Before you hit the hardware store, arm yourself with this shopping list of everything you need to avoid frozen pipes.

Pipe Insulation

Special rubber or polyethylene pipe insulation comes in a variety of lengths and dimensions to fit your home's plumbing. Plan to insulate pipes that run through unheated areas, such as the crawlspace or unfinished basement.

Heat Cable

If you live in an area particularly prone to freezing pipes, pipe insulation may not be enough. Another option is to run water pipe heat cables along areas of exposed plumbing. These come with a small, automatic thermostat to keep water running even when temperatures plummet well below 0 degrees. As long as you choose UL listed products and follow the manufacturer instructions, heat cable is a safe way to prevent either plastic or metal water pipes from freezing.

Heat Tape

A similar alternative to heat cable is heat tape. The tape spirals around the plumbing to heat it safely and evenly. With resistance to high heat, you can keep the heat tape installed all year round without fear of damage from hot water running through the pipes. If you decide to install heat tape, you also need pressure-sensitive, heat-resistant fiberglass or aluminum tape and a temperature-controlling device, which may come included from the manufacturer.

Water Meter Insulation

If your water meter is exposed to frigid drafts, it could break, leading to an inconvenient and potentially high-cost replacement. Special insulating jackets reduce the risk of damage in cold temperatures. Removable versions make it easy to still calibrate, monitor and maintain the water meter without leaving it exposed to cold temperatures.

Heated Water Hoses

Normally, you're advised to disconnect, drain and store your garden hoses inside until spring. If you need to occasionally use a hose in the winter, heated water hoses are a great solution. They have wires embedded in the hose wall and when plugged in, the hose heats up from end to end. The heating element shuts off automatically in warm weather so you don't waste energy when this feature isn't needed.

In addition to having the right equipment for winterizing your pipes, you can take certain precautionary measures when the temperature drops to help prevent your pipes from freezing. Here are a few tips:

  • Don't shut off heat to areas containing pipes or plumbing fixtures, even if the spaces are unoccupied.
  • Open under-sink cabinet doors to keep warm room air circulating around the pipes.
  • Allow a small trickle of cold water to run from an upper-floor faucet over night. The cost of the water is much less than paying to repair the damage caused by a burst pipe.
  • Set the thermostat to 55 degrees or higher at all times, even if you go out of town.
  • Know where the main water shut-off valve is located. Turn it off when you go on vacation.
  • Shut off and drain the sprinkler system before the first freeze.

With these tips for winterizing your pipes, you're ready to hit the hardware store. For more information, or to schedule professional plumbing services, please contact Mr. Rooter® today.