There is nothing worse than going away for the holidays, perhaps to family or on a vacation, only to return to a flooding basement or water sloshing about the floor because a pipe burst in the freezing temperatures. A burst pipe can end up costing you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars in repairs, mold removal, and replacing damaged items. That is why you need to do what you can to keep your pipes from freezing. Thankfully it isn’t all that difficult to do. So make sure to follow these few steps and you’ll avoid ever dealing with burst pipes.
Tips on How to Keep Pipes from Freezing
Insulate Your Pipes
Do you have exposed plumbing (especially in the basement)? If so, it is a good idea to insulate your pipes. In fact, when looking at how to keep pipes from freezing it is one of the best steps to follow. It doesn’t cost much. You can purchase pipe insulation at any hardware store. There are a number of benefits associated with insulating your pipes beyond avoiding the freezing issue. When you insulate your pipes you’ll retain heat better. This way, the hot water coming from the water heater won’t cool down as quickly prior to reaching your shower or sinks. This can cut down on energy consumption and reduce the strain placed on your water heater. And best of all, this is a home improvement project you can do on your own and in just a few hours.
Insulate Your Home
Now, your home is probably already insulated, but when it comes to how to keep pipes from freezing you’ll want to go about the property prior to winter coming and looking over the property for any cracks. This includes around your doors and windows, but also look around the ground level. If you find any cracks you’ll want to fill these areas in.
Around the windows and doors consider new weather stripping. Over time the weather stripping will dry out and crack, which results in cold air from the outside getting in. Again, performing this improvement will save on your utility costs.
If you notice small cracks in the siding you should at the very least fill the siding in with insulating foam spray. If you have the funds you might want to consider having the siding redone, but in a pinch, the foam spray is extremely helpful in avoiding cold air from coming inside.
Also, make sure your garage door is closed. You’d be surprised as to how much cold air comes in through garages that are only partially shut.
Turn On Your Faucet
One reason drains freeze is because water sits in the plumbing and doesn’t move. Still water is more likely to freeze than moving water. This is also a top reason why pipes freeze when off on vacation. The water just isn’t moving anywhere.
If at all possible, have someone come to your house and run the faucets for a few moments once a day or so. If this isn’t an option allow a faucet to drip (make sure it’s cold water as there’s no need to use hot water for this). The slight drip will keep the water moving, even if at a slow pace. This is enough to help avoid freezing pipes in the winter.
Set Your Thermostat
When you leave for a few days you might feel inclined to turn off the furnace. After all, shutting off the heat for a few days (or longer) can end up saving you a nice chunk of change. However, if temperatures drop and your heat isn’t running, no amount of pipe insulation of faucet dripping can fully prevent the pipes from freezing if the temperature inside the house is under freezing.
Instead, set your thermostat to 55 degrees. But why 55? After all, if freezing point is 32 isn’t it safe to drop the heat lower? The answer to this is no because when your thermostat is at 55 it doesn’t mean all of the house will actually be at 55. You’ve probably noticed areas of your house are colder or warmer throughout the year. This is almost always true when it comes to your basement or utility room. Most of the HVAC vents are not directed to these areas of the house, which means even if the home thermostat is set at one temperature, the rooms without vents will be much colder. Setting the thermostat at 55 will ensure the water doesn’t have the chance to hit freezing.
Open The Cabinets
You will want to do this when you’re away from the house. The space under your sinks do not receive direct heat from the HVAC. So, if you leave the cabinets closed the exposed plumbing to your sinks will remain colder. Before you leave for a trip, make sure to open up the cabinets (and if you have anyone watching your house make sure they know to leave the cabinets open).
Disconnect Your Garden Hoses
It is possible for a burst pipe to actually originate with your garden hose. And it is the garden hose that is often not even considered when it comes to protecting the house. In order to prevent a frozen pipe from forming you will want to disconnect your garden hose from the house line. Even if your garden hose says it is frostproof you will be better off to not take any chances (as even “frostproof” garden hoses have been known to freeze, especially in winter temperatures). So, whether you are leaving for a few days or you’re done using the garden hose for the season, disconnect it from your outdoor line and take it inside. This not only will help you avoid a frozen pipe but it will extend the life of your hose.
It Doesn’t Take Much To Avoid Freezing Pipes
These are essential tips you need to follow in order to avoid freezing pipes. A single, frozen pipe, can set you back substantially, and even if your insurance covers frozen plumbing you’ll still be forced to deal with the aftermath (and likely an increased insurance rate to go right along with it). So when looking at how to keep pipes from freezing make sure to follow these steps.