Frozen Pipes! How to Prevent Major Winter Plumbing Woes

Lots of homeowners are surprised at how cold it doesn’t have to get for pipes to freeze. Some pipes freeze when the temperature is as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit, well above the freezing temperature of the water. In many cases, all you may have to do is wait for the pipes to warm up, or warm them up manually. In other cases, frozen pipes burst. Here are some ways to prevent frozen pipes:

Keep the Water Running

When you find out that the night is going to be especially cold, turn on a cold water spigot just enough to allow for a trickle of water. Most often, plumbing pipes with moving water in them don’t freeze. Sometimes they freeze anyway, but they are less likely to burst, and they thaw faster when the temperature warms up a bit.

Wrap the Pipes

Pipe insulation is an inexpensive way to keep pipes from freezing in the winter. Insulation can be simple sleeves made of rubber or foam or tape that can be wound around the pipes to keep the chill off.

Open the Under-Sink Cabinets

Opening the under-sink cabinets in the bathroom and kitchen lets the warmer air of the room come into contact with the pipes to aid in pipe freeze protection. If there are pets or toddlers about, take out all the hazardous cleaning chemicals, and place them on a high shelf in the meantime.

Keep the Garage Door Closed

If there is plumbing in your garage, keeping the door or doors closed will keep them from freezing. It can be easy to forget that wiring and plumbing often run through your garage. In many cases, it is more exposed in the garage. If your garage gets too cold, even with the door closed, talk to a plumber or a garage door service to see what can be done.

Let the Thermostat Help

You may be tempted to dial down the thermometer at night. However, a thermostat that’s set at the same temperature night and day can help prevent freezing pipes. If you’re going on vacation, keep the heat on. Make sure the thermostat is set to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re worried about energy bills and live in an area with mild winters, you can keep the heat off during the day then turn it back up at night via remote. Consider a system that allows you to control your thermostat over the internet.

Insulate the Spaces

Just before the cold season, add insulation to your basement, crawlspace, and attic to keep the temperatures higher than it is outside. Make sure to caulk up the cracks around windows and doors.

Protecting plumbing pipes against freezing is easy and inexpensive. Considering the damage that burst pipes can do to your home, even buying many lengths of pipe insulation costs next to nothing.

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