Snow-covered winter weather presents a great opportunity for a fun day sledding down a nearby hill or snowball fights in the neighbor's yard. At the same time, winter weather can be difficult on your home. Severely cold conditions can cause the water lines in your house's plumbing system to freeze and burst, which may cause severe water damage and lasting negative effects.

Once your pipes are frozen, you should call a plumber in Menomonie and western Wisconsin to handle the problem. That being said, there’s multiple things you can attempt to stop this from happening – and even just a bit of prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at Risk of Freezing

The pipes at the greatest risk of freezing are uncovered water lines. Prevalent locations for exposed pipes are inside attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running under a modular home. Water lines that are not properly insulated are at the greatest risk.

How to Keep Pipes from Becoming Frozen in Your Home

Sufficiently insulating uncovered water lines is a solid first step to keeping your pipes ice free. You’ll likely find many of these materials from a local plumbing company, and could also already have some somewhere in your home.

Be mindful not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they might catch fire. If you don’t feel comfortable insulating the pipes on your own, contact your local plumbing services professional in Menomonie and western Wisconsin to get the job done right.

If you do prefer to insulate the pipes on your own, good insulation materials for pipes consist of:

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Most plumbers, hardware stores and big box retailers provide insulation – usually fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can wrap or fit around your pipes. They are supplied in numerous lengths and sizes to suit the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: To a decent degree, newspaper can be used as insulation. If the weather is cooling down and you aren’t able to add insulation before then, wrap uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you don't have the chance to buy insulation and don’t have any newspaper close by, wrapping particularly vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a last-ditch effort may be just enough to keep the cold air from freezing the pipes.

One other preventative step you can attempt to prevent pipes from being covered in ice is to fill any cracks that may allow cold air into your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can draw in surprisingly powerful drafts. Not only should this help to prevent your pipes from freezing, but it will have the additional benefit of making your home more energy efficient.

Five More Ways to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing:

  • Open the cabinet doors. Opening the cabinet doors underneath the sinks and other spaces of your home with pipes will allow more warm air from the rest of the room to flow near the pipes.
  • Letting water drip. Keeping a flow of water by letting your faucets trickle even just a little can help prevent frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors for rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more evenly. This is particularly important if you struggle with a room that is frequently colder or hotter than the rest of the home.
  • Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors tip is the garage door, which you should keep shut – particularly if your water lines run through the garage.
  • Keep the heat steady. Experts suggest setting the thermostat at a uniform temperature and leaving it there, rather than allowing it to get lower at night. Set it no cooler than 55 degrees.

How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

When you’re at home, it’s easier to recognize when something isn't right. But what additional steps can you try to keep pipes from freezing in an unused home or vacation home when the consequences from a frozen pipe can remain unnoticed for a while?

As with your primary residence, insulating any exposed water lines, opening interior doors in the home and winterizing the vacant home are the basic steps to take.

Added Steps to Stop Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home:

  1. Leave the heat on. Even though you won't always be home, it’s best to keep the heat on – even if you switch the thermostat down cooler than you would if you were there. As with a primary home, experts recommend keeping the temperature at no lower than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time or are winterizing a vacation cabin or cottage, switching the water off to the house and draining the water out of the water lines is a good way to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting open. Remember to flush the water out of your appliances, including the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. Confirm you clear out all the water from the plumbing. If you are not sure of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel comfortable performing it yourself, a plumber in Menomonie and western Wisconsin will be delighted to offer support.