Lots of snow and winter weather presents a great opportunity for things like sledding down a nearby hill or snowball fights in the front yard. However, winter weather can be hard on your home. Excessively cold conditions can encourage the water lines in your plumbing to freeze and burst, which may result in significant water damage and long-lasting negative effects.

When your pipes are frozen, you should hire a plumber in to resolve the issue. Nevertheless, there’s multiple things you can attempt to prevent this from happening – and even minor prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at More Risk of Freezing

The pipes at the highest risk of freezing are exposed water lines. Prevalent locations for uninsulated pipes are inside attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running underneath a modular home. Water lines that are not appropriately insulated are at the biggest risk.

How to Stop Pipes from Becoming Frozen in Your Home

Thoroughly insulating uncovered water lines is a solid first step to keeping your pipes safe. You’ll likely have access to most of these materials from the local plumbing company, and might also already have some somewhere in your home.

Be careful not to wrap other flammable insulation materials where they can light on fire. If you don’t feel confident insulating the pipes on your own, contact your local plumbing services professional in to get the job done right.

If you do prefer to insulate the pipes by yourself, popular insulation materials for pipes consist of:

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Most plumbers, hardware stores and national retailers provide insulation – typically fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can wrap or fit around your pipes. They are sold in various lengths and sizes to suit the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: In a pinch, newspaper can be used as insulation. If the weather is going to get cold and you aren’t able to buy insulation soon enough, try wrapping uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you don't have the chance to add insulation and don’t have any newspaper close by, wrapping especially vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort can be just enough to keep the cold air away from the pipes.

Another preventative step you can try to keep pipes from being covered in ice is to seal up any cracks that could allow cold air in your home. Focus on the window frames, which can allow in surprisingly powerful drafts. Not only will this help to keep 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 under the sinks and other areas of your home that have pipes will permit 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 drip even just a bit can help avoid frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors between rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more evenly. This is mostly important if you struggle with a room that tends to be 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 can be found near or under the garage.
  • Keep the heat steady. Experts encourage setting the thermostat at a constant temperature and leaving it in place, rather than letting it get cooler at night. Set it no cooler than 55 degrees.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

When you’re inside a house, it’s easy to know when something breaks down. But what added steps can you attempt to keep pipes from freezing in a vacant home or vacation home when the damage from a frozen pipe may not be discovered for some time?

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

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

  1. Leave the heat on. Even though you won't always be home, it’s best to leave the heat on – even if you adjust the thermostat down colder than you would if you were there. As with a primary home, 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 a long time or are winterizing a vacation cabin or cottage, shutting the water off to the house and clearing the water out of the water lines is one way to stop pipes from freezing and bursting. Don’t forget to flush the water out of your appliances, such as the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. See to it that you empty all the water from the plumbing. If you’re unsure of how to drain the water from the pipes, or don’t feel comfortable handling it without any help, a plumber in will be glad to help.