Complete Guide on How to Keep Pipes from Freezing in Winter

September 27, 2022

Lots of snow and winter weather brings fun activities like 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. Extremely cold conditions can encourage the water lines in your plumbing to freeze and burst, which could cause significant water damage and long-lasting negative effects.

If your pipes are frozen solid, you should call a plumber in Omaha to fix them. However, there’s several tasks you can try to keep 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 greatest risk of freezing are uncovered water lines. Frequent locations for uncovered pipes are in 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 highest risk.

How to Stop Pipes from Freezing Over in Your Home

Properly insulating uncovered water lines is a solid first step to keeping your pipes safe. You’ll generally have access to most of these materials from your local plumbing company, and could also already have some someplace in your home.

Try not to wrap up other flammable insulation materials where they can catch fire. If you don’t feel confident insulating the pipes on your own, get in touch with your local plumbing services professional in Omaha to do the job.

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

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Lots of plumbers, hardware stores and large retailers sell insulation – typically fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to wrap or fit around your pipes. They are offered in various 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 going to get cold and you aren’t able to add insulation before then, wrap uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you miss the opportunity to add insulation and don’t have any newspaper close by, wrapping especially vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort could be just enough to keep the cold air off 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. Keep an eye on the window frames, which can let in surprisingly powerful drafts. This not only will help to stop 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 beneath the sinks and other areas of your home with 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 in rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more equally. This is especially important if you struggle with a room that is frequently colder or hotter than other rooms.
  • Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors tip is the garage door, which you should keep down – particularly if your water lines run through the garage.
  • Keep the heat flowing. Experts suggest setting the thermostat at a stable temperature and leaving it in place, rather than permitting it to get colder at night. Set it no lower than 55 degrees.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

When you’re inside a house, it’s easy to realize when something breaks down. But what added steps can you take to keep pipes from freezing in an empty home or vacation home when the damages from a frozen pipe might not be discovered for some time?

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 first steps to take.

Added Steps to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in a Vacant 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 turn the thermostat down colder than you would if you were there. As with a primary home, experts encourage keeping the temperature at no lower 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, turning the water off to the house and emptying the water out of the water lines is an easy way to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting open. Don’t forget to flush the water out of your appliances, such as the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. Make sure you clear out all the water from the pipes. If you are not sure of how to clear out the water from the pipes, or don’t feel comfortable doing it on your own, a plumber in Omaha will be happy to assist.