Lots of snow and winter weather brings fun activities like sledding down the neighborhood hill or snowball fights in the back yard. That being said, winter weather can be tough on your home. Severely cold conditions can encourage the water lines in your plumbing to freeze and burst, which can cause severe water damage and lasting negative effects.

When your pipes are covered in ice, you may want to contact a plumber in to fix them. Nevertheless, there’s multiple things you can perform on your own to prevent this from happening – and even minor prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at a Higher Chance of Freezing

The pipes at the highest risk of freezing are exposed water lines. Frequent locations for uncovered pipes are in attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running beneath a modular home. Water lines that are not correctly insulated are at the biggest risk.

How to Stop Pipes from Freezing Over in Your Home

Properly insulating uncovered water lines is a great first step to keeping your pipes ice free. You’ll often find most of these materials from a local plumbing company, and might also already have some somewhere in your home.

Be careful not to wrap up other flammable insulation materials where they can be caught on fire. If you don’t feel confident insulating the pipes by yourself, call your local plumbing services professional in to handle the job.

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

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Many plumbers, hardware stores and national retailers offer insulation – commonly fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to wrap or fit around your pipes. They are sold in numerous lengths and sizes to suit the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: To a decent degree, newspaper can be used for insulation. If the weather is cooling down and you aren’t able to put in more insulation before then, consider covering uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you miss the opportunity to install 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 from freezing the pipes.

Another preventative step you can take to prevent pipes from being covered in ice is to seal up any cracks that can allow cold air into your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can let in surprisingly strong drafts. Not only will 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 rooms of your home that have 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 move even a small amount can help prevent frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors in rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more consistently. This is especially 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 advice is the garage door, which you should keep down – namely if your water lines are installed under the garage.
  • Keep the heat steady. Experts encourage setting the thermostat at a persistent temperature and leaving it in place, rather than permitting it to get cooler at night. Set it no colder than 55 degrees.

How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

When you’re in your own home, it’s not difficult to recognize when something breaks down. But what extra steps can you take to stop pipes from freezing in an unused home or vacation home when the consequences from a frozen pipe may not be discovered for days or even weeks?

As with the main residence, placing extra insulation around any exposed water lines, opening interior doors in the home and winterizing the vacant home are the first steps to try at first.

Extra Steps to Keep 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 turn the thermostat down cooler than you would if you were there. As with a primary residence, experts encourage keeping the temperature at no cooler than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be out of the house for an extended period of 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 prevent pipes from freezing and bursting. Don’t forget to flush the water out of all appliances, including the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. See to it that you clear out all the water from the plumbing. If you are not sure of how to drain the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure handling it yourself, a plumber in will be happy to step in.