How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

You know winter has arrived when you start thinking about how to prevent frozen pipes. However, if you take preventative measures now, you won’t have to do an emergency search for “plumbers near me” when your frozen pipes burst. 

Keep reading to learn how to prevent your pipes from freezing when the temperatures drop! 

Which Pipes Can Freeze?

Pipes to swimming pools, hose connections, or sprinklers are particularly vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Pipes in basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages, or along uninsulated exterior walls can freeze, too.

Why Do Pipes Freeze?

Although water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, water in pipes typically begins to freeze around 20 degrees. They can freeze solid in about six hours! How quickly your pipes freeze will depend on several factors, such as how exposed the pipes are, whether they are insulated, and how well they are insulated. 

Water freezes as it expands. Pipes, whether PVC or metal, contract as they cool. This expansion of water and contraction of the pipes increases pressure inside the pipes. At a certain point, the pipes will crack or even burst.

What Happens If My Frozen Pipes Crack or Burst?

A cracked or burst pipe can create significant problems. Even a crack about ⅛ of an inch could result in the loss of 250 gallons of water in a day. 

The resulting leakage and flooding could cause all sorts of issues including:

  • Water damage 
  • Mold 
  • Mildew
  • Structural problems
  • Damaged property and belongings 

Rather than having to deal with the consequences of frozen pipes, it is far better to prevent them from freezing in the first place. 

How Do I Prevent Frozen Pipes?

There are a number of effective ways, both temporary and permanent, to prevent your pipes from freezing. Some steps you can take to prevent frozen pipes are fairly simple to implement, but for others, you’ll probably need a professional.

Temporary Measures to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Temporary measures to prevent frozen pipes including things that you can do to protect your pipes for a short time in freezing temperatures. 

Let Your Facets Be Drippy

Don’t turn your facets all the way off; instead, let them drip just a little. This keeps water moving in the pipes and prevents freezing.

Open Doors to Your Cabinets 

Sometimes, pipes under sinks can freeze. Leaving cabinet doors open will circulate warm air and prevent freezing.

Keep the Home Furnace Burning 

If you are going out of town and expect freezing temperatures while you’re gone, just leave your furnace on low. Don’t turn it completely off. This will keep the temperature warm enough to prevent frozen pipes. 

Protect and Cover 

Disconnect and drain hoses. If your hose is connected, water will remain trapped in the connection and could freeze. Close and drain taps and cover outdoor faucets to keep them a little warmer than the outside air. 

Open Air Vents

Make sure your heating and air vents are open so that heat can circulate evenly. 

Permanent Measures to Prevent Frozen Pipes

While temporary measures to prevent your pipes from freezing can be helpful, it might be best to opt for solutions that offer longer-term protection with the help of professionals.

Frost-Proof Faucets

If your area is prone to freezing temperatures, consider having a professional plumber install frost-proof outdoor faucets. These faucet types stop the flow of water behind the valve, which is farther back inside the walls where the temperatures are warmer. 

Insulate, Insulate, Insulate

To prevent frozen pipes in vulnerable areas, you may want to think about having a professional apply installation to your pipes. 

For example, if you have a crawl space, having the pipes in the space insulated can protect them. Also, if there are pipes in attics, in the garage, or along exterior walls, make sure to have these insulated, as well. 

Repair Exterior Walls

Cracks in exterior walls can funnel in cold, freezing air to any pipes nearby. If your exterior walls have cracks, repair them with an approved sealant or caulk. These usually dry best in temperatures over 45 degrees, so do this before winter arrives. If the crack is a significant size or difficult to reach, it’s probably best to have a professional repair it. 

Reroute Home Pipes

Though rerouting pipes can be expensive, it may be worthwhile to have a professional plumber relocate your pipes if they are currently in areas prone to extreme cold. This could help keep them from freezing.

Install Heat Tape

If rerouting pipes isn’t feasible, installing heat tape or pipe sleeves may be a better alternative. 

Heat tape is a generic term for thin, supple cables and cords you can wrap around pipes to prevent freezing. 

Pipe sleeves are exactly what they sound like:  Hollow coverings that create a protective layer around the pipe. Because some pipes can be difficult to reach, such as those in crawl spaces or behind things, it’s probably a good idea to call a professional for help. 

Frozen Pipe Prevention

Want to know which pipes are vulnerable on your property? If you live in Springdale, AR, Johnson, AR, or Lowell, AR, reach out to the experienced plumbers at Stith Plumbing and HVAC for a consultation today!