How to Winterize Your Home and Prevent Frozen Pipes

December 1, 2022

Winter is upon us, and with every winter comes the dread of frozen pipes. In 2021 alone, winter weather caused at least 1.5 billion dollars in property damage due to frozen pipes. However, this is not something new. Worldwide more than $5 billion is lost each year due to frozen pipes resulting in huge losses, both financially and emotionally. To prevent this from happening to you, here are some easy steps to winterize your home and prevent frozen pipes.

Disconnect garden hoses: One of the most common sources of frozen pipes is garden hoses attached to outdoor faucets. These hoses act as a bridge for cold air to enter the home and freeze up the pipes leading from the faucet. To avoid this, be sure to disconnect all garden hoses during wintertime.

Install insulation: Pipe insulation can help keep water flowing in temperatures down to -20°F / -29 °C. You can easily purchase foam pipe insulation at your local hardware store and cut it with a utility knife or scissors to fit around your pipes. Be sure to seal any joints between pieces of insulation with duct tape or silicone caulk.

Open cabinet doors: Opening cabinets that house plumbing fixtures will allow warm air to circulate, which can help prevent pipes from freezing.

Turn off exterior faucets: If you're not using your outdoor faucets, it's best to turn them off. This will help keep the water in the lines from freezing and bursting.

Maintain indoor air temperature: Make sure to keep your thermostat set between 55°F (13°C) and 65°F (18°C). If the temperature drops below this range, pipes will be more likely to freeze up. To maximize energy efficiency, you can use a programmable thermostat to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the day.

Check for leaks: Leaks are one of the leading causes of frozen pipes. Ensure that none of your pipes or faucets are dripping, which could lead to water freezing and expanding inside the pipe. It's also a good idea to check for any cracks in exposed pipes, which could signify a potential leak.

Keep constant temperature: If you're going away for a few days, it's important to maintain a constant temperature in your home. Don't turn your heat off or down if leaving, as this will increase the risk of frozen pipes.

If you're looking to winterize your home and prevent frozen pipes, following these steps can help keep your home safe during the cold winter months. Being proactive about preventing frozen pipes will save you time and money in the long run. But how do you know if the pipe is freezing or if it's a common problem?

The first thing that tells you that you have a frozen pipe is when you turn on the faucet to your sink or bathtub, and no water or very little cold water comes out. Another common way to tell is if you notice a bulge or crack in the pipe. If these signs are present, it's important to act quickly and thaw out the pipe as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

If you do find yourself with frozen pipes, there are some steps you can take to get them flowing again. You should start by turning off the main water supply to your house and then locate the frozen area of the pipe. Once found, you can use a hairdryer or heat lamp to melt the ice inside the pipe. For smaller sections of a frozen pipe, using hot towels may also help. Never try to thaw frozen pipes with an open flame, as this could cause serious property damage or injury. You can also:

Turn off the main water valve: The first step is to turn off the main water valve. This will help prevent any further damage from occurring if the pipe bursts.

Turn on a faucet: Turn on one of your home's faucets to determine where the frozen pipe is located. If no water comes out of the faucet, there's likely a frozen section of pipe between it and the main water line.

Apply heat to frozen pipes: You can use warm towels or a blow dryer to apply heat to any exposed sections of frozen pipes. Don't use open flames, as this could cause more harm than good! Once the water begins flowing again, slowly turn on other faucets in your home that are affected by the freeze.

Call a professional: If all else fails, it's best to call a qualified plumber or HVAC technician. They will be able to identify the exact cause of the frozen pipes and provide you with a solution to get them thawed out safely.

Frozen pipes are a common problem during the winter. By being proactive and taking the necessary steps to winterize your home, you can reduce the risk of frozen pipes and any potential damage that comes with them. If you spot a frozen pipe, the best way to deal with it is to contact a professional plumber. They will be able to help you identify the cause and provide you with a solution to get your pipes flowing again.

 

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Samantha Williams
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