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How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing This Winter Full Guide of 2023

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how to prevent your pipes from freezingWater’s your livelihood. You bend it, shape it, reroute it. But when Old Man Winter comes knockin’, water turns traitor, expands as it freezes, screws your pipes sideways.

Next thing you know, water’s spurting everywhere except where it should, drowning your floors, wrecking your walls, destroying all your hard work.

Take control before Jack Frost makes a fool of you. Protect those pipes. Insulate them. Bleed them. Set your thermostat above 55°. And if your pipes still freeze, don’t panic.

You know what to do. Thaw them slow and steady with a hair dryer or heating pad. Stay with it until water flows free again.

You got this. You’re the pro. Not Mother Nature. Show her who’s boss. Keep those pipes flowing all winter long.

Key Takeaways

  • Insulate and wrap pipes before winter.
  • Set the thermostat to at least 55°F.
  • Allow interior taps to drip warm water.
  • Know the main valve’s location to shut off the water quickly.

Why Pipes Freeze

Why Pipes Freeze
You’re most likely to have pipes freeze when they’re exposed to severe cold, like in uninsulated basements or attics. Pipes in these unheated areas are vulnerable to freezing, especially when nighttime temperatures dip below freezing.

The expanding water inside can rupture and crack the pipes. Make it a habit to check that your basement and attic have adequate insulation before winter sets in.

Getting insulation installed now can save you from a pipe bursting and the resulting water damage later. Even wrapping pipes in newspaper or old towels provides a little protection from the cold.

Taking preventative steps today keeps your pipes flowing all winter long.

Protect Pipes From Freezing

Protect Pipes From Freezing
Wrap any exposed pipes in insulation sleeves or UL-listed heat tape. Make sure to insulate pipes in unheated areas like the basement, attic, or crawl space. Maintaining a steady thermostat temperature is also crucial – do not allow it to drop below 55 degrees if you will be away when temperatures are cold.

Taking preventative measures now keeps your plumbing flowing all winter and avoids burst pipes that can cause major water damage. A few simple precautions help ensure your pipes stay functional even when freezing temperatures hit.

Insulate Pipes

Your home’s plumbing needs a warm embrace now to withstand winter’s icy grasp. Exposed pipes in unheated areas like attics and crawl spaces must be wrapped in insulation when temperatures dip below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Use foam pipe sleeves or UL-listed heat tape to protect pipes from the cold winter months. Insulating both hot and cold lines prevents freezing and keeps water flowing all season long.

Maintain Heat

Keep the thermostat set to at least 55°F, even when you’re away, to help prevent those pipes from freezing.

  • Let taps slowly drip to keep water moving in exposed plumbing.
  • Open cabinet doors so warmer air circulates around uninsulated pipes.
  • Maintain heat in unheated areas like attics and basements to protect the water supply and prevent burst pipes.

Protect your home this winter by keeping things cozy for those pipes.

Signs of Frozen Pipes

Signs of Frozen Pipes
The flow from your faucets is reduced to a trickle or stops completely. This is the most obvious sign of frozen pipes.

You hear unusual noises coming from the pipes like banging or loud dripping when the water is turned on.

Degree in Celsius Pipe Condition
0 to -6 Risk of Freezing
-6 to -15 High Risk of Freezing
-15 and below Pipes Likely Frozen

If you suspect a frozen pipe, locate your main water shutoff valve so you can turn off the water if a pipe bursts. Act quickly at the first sign of frozen pipes to prevent major damage. A few simple preventative steps keep your plumbing safe all winter.

Thaw Frozen Pipes

Thaw Frozen Pipes
Apply a hair dryer or space heater to the frozen section. Keep it trained on the pipe until full water pressure is restored. This melts the ice gradually to avoid pipe bursting. Check other faucets in unheated spaces for additional frozen areas.

Insulated pipes in heated areas rarely freeze, so focus on unheated crawl spaces, attics, and garages first.

Your water leak detection system can help pinpoint problem spots. Prevent future freezing by better insulating pipes in unheated spaces.

Burst pipes cause severe water damage, so act quickly if you suspect a freeze. Taking preventative measures like maintaining heat and insulating pipes keeps your plumbing safe all winter.

Prevent Pipe Bursts

Prevent Pipe Bursts
Don’t await calamity; insulate your pipes properly. Enclosed pipes in exterior walls need ample insulation when temperatures drop. Allow interior faucets to drip warm water overnight. Avoid creating areas of standing water from appliances or baths when headed out of town.

Limit usage of appliances requiring large volumes of water when it’s frigid. Never leave open flame heaters running unattended near plumbing. Taking a few precautions keeps pipes from freezing or bursting when the mercury plummets.

Signs of Pipe Bursts

Signs of Pipe Bursts
Check for unusually high water bills or low water pressure, which could signal pipe bursts. Listen for sounds of running or dripping water in the walls, floors, or ceiling that hint at burst pipes.

During severe cold snaps, the repeated freezing and thawing common with periods of extreme cold cause pipes to crack or joints to separate. Target frozen pipes indoors next to uninsulated exterior walls or in unheated crawl spaces, basements, and attics.

Thaw frozen sections with a hair dryer or space heater, then allow faucets to drain. But bursts require professional plumbing repairs to avoid harming your home’s water system and causing water damage.

Stay vigilant when the mercury plummets.

Handle Pipe Bursts

Handle Pipe Bursts
Shut ’em off when bursts start gushin’ to stop the floodin’ and call a pro to fix the burstin’ pipes before your home’s soaked.

If you hear water runnin’ within the walls or see wet spots on the ceiling, shut off the main valve pronto.

Then call a licensed plumber to diagnose and repair the damage.

Keepin’ your home warm and coverin’ exposed water supply pipes in cold areas is your best bet to prevent freezin’ in the first place.

A few simple steps can save you a huge headache later. Don’t wait – insulation and heat tape can prevent bursts before they happen.

Stay on top of maintenance and you’ll keep water where it should be – inside the pipes.

Prevent Water Damage

Prevent Water Damage
Y’all’d be wise to know where your main water valve is so you can shut ‘er down quick if pipes start burstin’. Make sure to close them cold water outside faucets and drain the lines before temps drop. And wrap any exposed pipes with insulation to keep ’em from freezin’. Controlled heat cables on problem pipes can save y’all trouble too.

Sealin’ drafts round vents and windows helps keep warmer air circulatin’ to vulnerable pipes. Set the thermostat steady through frigid nights so pipes don’t freeze. With a little TLC y’all can keep water flowin’ free as a bird all winter long.

Just stay on top of maintenance and them pipes’ll stay happy.

Prepare for Vacations

Prepare for Vacations
Forewarned is forearmed, so before headin’ out on vacation when it’s colder than a well digger’s backside, have a heart-to-heart with the homestead to ward off frozen pipes. Like a faithful old hound keepin’ watch, a steady thermostat and sealed up drafts’ll keep your pipes cozier than a campfire through the winter nights.

Don’t let your humble abode come home to burst pipes and flooded floors – show it some love before you leave.

With the mercury droppin’ and the cold outdoors creepin’ in, them water lines in unheated areas’ll need extra TLC. Keepin’ the heat above 50 even on the coldest days lets warmth seep to vulnerable spots.

A little planning and maintenance goes a long way in protecting pipes when you’re away on cold days.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What temperature should I set my thermostat to prevent freezing?

Keep the thermostat set to at least 55°F when you’re away during cold weather. That’ll help prevent pipes from freezing, especially in uninsulated exterior walls or basements. If it gets colder outside, bump it up a bit. You don’t want pipes exposed to severe cold or they could freeze and burst.

Should I leave cabinets open that have pipes running through them?

Yes, you should leave cabinets open that have pipes running through them. Doing so allows warm air to circulate around the pipes, keeping them from freezing. The more exposed the pipes are to heat, the less likely they are to freeze. This easy step helps protect pipes in unheated areas like basements or garages.

Exposing pipes to warmth prevents freezing. Leave cabinets open for air circulation. Closing cabinets before bedtime deters pests. This protects pipes in unheated basements and garages.

How do I locate my main water shut-off valve?

Seeking the main valve? You’re smart, wanting control. Feel along the cold pipe from the meter inbound. Trace it to the knob or lever shutting the water off. Turn it clockwise until it won’t turn no more.

It’s old, stubborn – use some muscle. There, you’ve located it, ready to stop any bursting flood.

If my pipes do freeze, is it safe to use a blow dryer or other heat source to thaw them?

Yes, using a hair dryer or space heater can safely thaw frozen pipes. Wrap the hot air source in a towel and slowly move it back and forth across the frozen section. Continue heating until full water pressure is restored. Be patient and do not leave unattended to avoid burns or fire.

I’m going on vacation for 2 weeks. What steps should I take to prevent frozen or burst pipes while I’m away?

Turn off the main water supply. Set the thermostat no lower than 55°F. Open the cabinet doors under sinks. Let the taps drip to keep water moving. Ask a neighbor to check the house periodically. Insulate pipes in unheated areas. Your home will stay safe while you’re away if you take these precautions.


Insulate pipes that are exposed or in unheated areas. Hardware stores sell foam pipe insulation that is easy to install.

Maintain a consistent temperature in your home, even when you are away. Set heat to a minimum of 55°F.

Allow faucets to slowly drip during extreme cold snaps. Keeping water moving within pipes prevents freezing.

Know the location of your water shut-off valve. If a pipe does burst, you can shut off the water immediately to prevent flooding and water damage.

Seal any air leaks around pipes. Cold drafts can quickly freeze exposed pipes and cause them to burst.

Open cabinet doors below sinks. This allows indoor heat to reach the pipes.

Disconnect and drain garden hoses. The water left in them can freeze and expand, causing pipes to crack.

Consider installing heat tape or thermostatically-controlled heat cables on exposed pipes.

Be proactive this winter and take preventative measures so your plumbing keeps flowing freely.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.