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6 Ways to Prevent Your Water Pipes From Freezing and Bursting


A cold winter can pose many challenges for your home’s plumbing. A sudden cold snap can cause unprotected water pipes to freeze solid and eventually burst, resulting in an expensive and time-consuming cleanup.

In a previous blog, we focused on mistakes to avoid so your home stays warm and dry all winter. Here, we explore six more tips for keeping pipes from freezing and bursting.

  1. Let Your Faucets Drip

A dripping faucet isn’t always a bad thing, especially when temperatures dip below freezing. As your pipes freeze, the expanding ice buildup puts excessive pressure on other parts of your plumbing. The pressure buildup between the faucet and the ice blockage can cause your pipe to burst.

Whenever you’re expecting a hard freeze, you should crack open your faucet and let the water run through your pipes at a mere trickle. The open faucet won’t stop the water from freezing inside of your pipes, but it will help relieve pressure on your water lines, making them less likely to burst.

  1. Keep Your Doors Open

Water pipes usually run within and behind cabinets. Keeping your cabinet doors closed in below-freezing weather can do your pipes more harm than good under these conditions. You’re better off leaving your cabinet doors open. This allows warm air to circulate through the cabinets, keeping those spaces and nearby water pipes warm and intact.

The same goes for the interior doors throughout your home. Leaving your doors open gives warm air a chance to circulate throughout each room. Opening doors can not only help lower your heating bills but also protect your plumbing.

  1. Insulate Pipes in Vulnerable Areas

Your water pipes are most vulnerable to freezing in areas with little to no insulation. These areas include your basement, crawl spaces, and attic. Adding a little extra insulation in these areas can go a long way toward keeping your pipes warm.

You can also insulate the pipes themselves by fitting them with fiberglass or foam rubber sleeves. Insulating sleeves help block cold air from coming into direct contact with the pipes.

  1. Install Electric Heat Cables

If insulating your pipes isn’t a good fit for your home, you may appreciate a permanent solution that you have to use only when you need it. Electric heat cables wrap around vulnerable pipes, and you can turn them on only during particularly cold spells so you don’t waste energy.

However, electric heat cables aren’t the best choice for pipes that need greater insulation most of the time. In such cases, the extra electric power would be expensive. But if intermittent freezing is the problem you want to avoid, then heating cables can be an effective fix.

  1. Use Space Heaters and Fans

Some rooms may be colder than others, and the lack of heat in your walls may contribute to your freezing problem. If you need to redistribute air flow in your home or address a single area, then fans and space heaters is a minimally invasive solution.

By redirecting warm air toward a problematic wall or positioning a space heater nearby, you can warm the area without undertaking a home renovation project. However, keep in mind that you shouldn’t leave space heaters unattended or in a position where they could start a fire. And because you need to be home to watch them, fans and space heaters aren’t good solutions for times when you go on vacation.

  1. Drain the Water System Before You Vacation

Before you leave on a spring break skiing trip or a visit to grandma’s house, drain your water system. You won’t be home to need your sinks and showers, anyway, so you might as well get rid of the risk. Locate your water main and then turn off all the water for your home. Then, turn on all the faucets until water no longer comes out.

With no water in your pipes, your pipes can’t expand and burst. While you’re gone, you won’t have to worry about water damage.

Contact the experts at HELP Heating, Cooling, Electric, and Plumbing to learn more about how you can keep your home’s plumbing from freezing.

Posted in: Maintenance, Plumbing

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