Safeguard Your Pipes Against Freezing Weather

Posted on: 22 November 2019


Cold weather can do more than make your home uncomfortable, if you're not prepared. Temperatures that drop below freezing also place your home's plumbing in danger. Exposure to severe cold can cause water inside of your pipes to freeze solid. Since water expands as it freezes, the resulting pressure can burst pipes and cause severe water damage.

One of the most common residential plumbing emergencies involve pipes that have either frozen solid or burst due to cold weather. Here are a few tips you can use to keep your pipes safe from severe cold.

Keep Your Cabinet Doors Open

While warm ambient air can help protect pipes from freezing, pipes often run through areas that don't get any airflow. Opening up your kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors will let warmer air reach these normally closed-off spaces, giving your pipes a fighting chance against severe cold. If you have children in your home, make sure to put any household chemicals and cleaners out of their reach.

Drain Outdoor Hoses and Pipes

Leftover water found in garden hoses and outdoor pipes can freeze and expand in cold weather. To prevent damage, drain your outdoor hoses and put them back in storage until they're needed again. You can shut off supply to outdoor faucets, but leave the outdoor valves open to allow any trapped water to expand when frozen.

Let Your Faucets Drip

Dripping faucets may sound annoying and wasteful, but they'll save your pipes during a cold snap. Crack your faucets just enough to let a trickle of water through. Your pipes won't freeze as long as there's a small yet steady stream of water running through them.

Protect Your Pipes Directly

You can also take direct steps to protect your pipes through a variety of wraps and sleeves. Foam pipe sleeves create a buffer between your exposed pipes and the surrounding air. Wrapping electric heat cables and heat tape will actively warm pipes and keep water temps from falling below freezing. You can even wrap newspaper around your pipes for a small degree of protection against frozen pipes. Always check for leaks before using any of these devices.

Add Insulation Where Needed

Pipes that run through areas without adequate insulation are always at risk of freezing during severe cold. Adding more insulation in these areas will help raise indoor temperatures in those areas, lessening the likelihood of frozen pipes. Don't forget to seal cracks and gaps that could potentially let cold air into these spaces.