How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Icicles hanging from a pipe
Winter has many fun and enjoyable traditions, from going sledding to drinking hot chocolate to exchanging gifts with loved ones. Don’t let frozen pipes become an annual tradition in your house! Take precautions to prevent your pipes from freezing, bursting, and causing water damage with these easy tips from Mr. Rooter Plumbing.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Interior Plumbing

First, address the pipes inside your house:

  • Keep the thermostat to 55 degrees or higher at all times, even when you leave for a few days. It may cost a little more to heat your home while you’re away, but this is far less costly than combating frozen pipes when you return.
  • Keep doors open so warm air can circulate throughout the entire house. Also, open cabinet doors so heat can reach the pipes below the sink.
  • Allow faucets to drip on bitterly cold nights. Do this with faucets located on exterior walls that are at risk of freezing. The slight water flow may not prevent your pipes from freezing, but in some cases, the open faucets may relieve the pressure so the pipes won’t burst.
  • Seal and insulate exterior walls. If plumbing runs through your garage, basement, or crawlspace, it’s vital to keep these areas above freezing. One way is to seal doors and windows in these areas with caulk and weather stripping to prevent air leaks. Another is to insulate the walls to help keep the cold out.
  • Wrap electrical heating tape around exposed pipes in the garage, basement, or crawlspace. Some versions have built-in thermostats to automatically turn the heat on and off as needed, maximizing their effectiveness and efficiency. You can then install specially-made insulation over the pipes for extra protection. Be sure to read the individual manufacturers for specific instructions on proper installation in the various applications.
  • Drain the water system if you’re leaving town for a while. With no water in the pipes, they can’t freeze. To drain your plumbing, turn the main water shutoff valve. Then, open a tap at all sinks and faucets until the water stops running. Additionally, if the lowest faucet in the house is not below your main water lines, you may have to add drain-down valves to allow all the piping to drain completely.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes in Exterior Plumbing

You also have pipes on the outside of your home. Keep them safe from freezing temperatures with these tips:

  • Insulate hose bibs and exterior pipes. Protect hose bibs with a store-bought faucet cover. You can also use a towel, large rubber band, and garbage bag to insulate and waterproof hose bibs. If there’s any exposed plumbing attached to the hose bibs, protect them with pipe insulation.
  • Disconnect and drain garden hoses. Store them in the garage or shed over the winter.
  • Winterize your automatic sprinkler system. This involves blowing out the pipes to remove standing water.
  • Shut off the water to outdoor spigots or hose bibs. You can usually find the individual shutoff valves for each supply line near the main water shutoff valve or on the basement ceiling. Shut off the valve to each outdoor faucet, and then go outside and open the faucet to drain the water from the line. Return to the shutoff valve, inspect to see if a bleeder cap is available, hold a bucket below the bleeder cap, and remove the cap to drain any remaining water. Finally, replace the bleeder cap and close the outdoor faucet.

Get Help for Frozen Pipes

Mr. Rooter Plumbing is your source for expert guidance on how to prevent pipes from freezing. We can also identify and safely thaw frozen pipes and examine the plumbing for any damage after the freeze. We provide these and other plumbing services to keep your pipes flowing smoothly.

For help preventing, identifying, or thawing frozen pipes, contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing today. Did your home experience water damage from frozen and burst pipes? Schedule water damage restoration with Rainbow International before mold becomes an issue.

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