Complete Guide on How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in Winter

September 27, 2022

Snow-covered winter weather brings things like sledding down the neighborhood hill or snowball fights in the back yard. That being said, winter weather can be difficult on your home. Excessively cold conditions can cause the water lines in your plumbing to freeze and burst, which can result in significant water damage and long-lasting negative effects.

When your pipes are covered in ice, you may want to call a plumber in Menomonie and western Wisconsin to resolve the issue. That being said, there’s multiple things you can try to stop this from happening – and even just a bit of prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at a Higher Chance of Freezing

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

How to Keep Pipes from Becoming Frozen in Your Home

Thoroughly insulating uncovered water lines is a great first step to keeping your pipes free of ice. You’ll likely find most of these materials from the local plumbing company, and could also already have some inside your home.

Be careful not to cover other flammable insulation materials where they might be caught on fire. If you don’t feel safe insulating the pipes yourself, get in touch with your local plumbing services professional in Menomonie and western Wisconsin to get the job done right.

If you do choose to insulate the pipes by yourself, popular insulation materials for pipes are:

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Most plumbers, hardware stores and large retailers provide insulation – usually fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to wrap or fit around your pipes. They are sold in differing lengths and sizes to satisfy the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: To some degree, newspaper can be used for insulation. If the weather is getting colder and you aren’t able to put in more insulation soon enough, consider covering uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you don't have the chance to install insulation and don’t have any newspaper handy, wrapping particularly vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort could be just enough to keep the cold air from freezing the pipes.

Another preventative step you can attempt to stop pipes from being covered in ice is to seal up any cracks that can permit cold air in your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can allow in surprisingly intense drafts. This not only will help to stop your pipes from freezing, but it will have the extra 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 beneath the sinks and other rooms of your home with pipes will permit more warm air from the rest of the room to reach the pipes.
  • Letting water drip. Keeping a flow of water by letting your faucets move even just a little can help prevent frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors in rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more evenly. This is mostly 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 closed – particularly if your water lines are installed under the garage.
  • Keep the heat consistent. Experts recommend setting the thermostat at a constant temperature and leaving it alone, rather than letting it get lower at night. Set it no cooler than 55 degrees.

How to Stop Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant Home

When you’re at home, it’s easy to realize when something isn't right. But what extra steps can you take to prevent pipes from freezing in a vacant home or vacation home when the damages from a frozen pipe may not be discovered for days or even weeks?

As with a primary residence, adding insulation to any exposed water lines, opening interior doors inside the home and winterizing the vacant home are the best steps to attempt first.

Extra Steps to Stop Pipes from Freezing in an Empty Home:

  1. Leave the heat on. Even though you aren't currently using the home, it’s best to leave the heat on – even if you switch the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary residence, experts encourage keeping the temperature at no colder than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time or are winterizing a vacation cabin or cottage, shutting 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. Don’t forget to drain the water out of any appliances, such as the hot water heater, and the toilets. Make sure you empty all the water from the pipes. If you are not sure of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel confident doing it on your own, a plumber in Menomonie and western Wisconsin will be happy to offer support.