How to Protect Your Pipes from Freezing

Over a quarter of a million homes experience frozen pipes each winter. Not only are frozen pipes expensive to repair, your home and contents may be ruined. In a matter of minutes a one-eighth inch crack can release 250 gallons of water and disrupt your life in ways you may never imagine.

Here’s what can you do to ensure your pipes don’t freeze and burst this year?

  • Know where the main water shut off valve is to your home. This will enable you to shut the water off to the house should one of the pipes freeze and burst. The quicker you can get the water shut off, the less damage will be done.
  • Wrap exposed water pipes with insulation. The more protective insulation you can wrap around them, the less likely they are to freeze and burst.
  • In extremely cold temperatures you may also want to use thermostatically-controlled heat cables. These can be wrapped around the insulation and should only be used according to manufacturer’s instructions for installing them. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. independently tests and approves these cables; be sure to use only those which have been UL approved.
  • Seal any leaks around the pipes which may be allowing cold air into the area where the pipes are exposed. This could mean checking around electrical wiring which comes through the walls, dryer vents and the pipes themselves. Use flexible insulation, caulk or a can of expandable foam insulation. By blocking as much air as possible you’ll lessen the chance of the pipes bursting.
  • Disconnect and remove garden hoses not used during the winter. Turn the valve off to the spigot and drain all of the water from the faucet.
  • If you must leave a faucet active for whatever reason, remove the garden hose between uses. You can also put an insulated cap over the faucet to keep it from freezing.
  • When the temperatures are expected to get especially frigid, leave a trickle of hot and cold water running in at least one sink on an outside wall. This may be just enough to avoid freezing pipes.
  • Allow cabinet doors with un-insulated pipes under it to remain open to allow warm air from the house to heat the pipes and keep them from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat to your home set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit even if you’re not going to be home. Then ask family or a neighbor to check on your home periodically while you’re gone to ensure the temperature doesn’t fall too low.
    No one wants to experience a burst water pipe. By getting ready for the first frost you’ll be well on your way to avoiding one.