How you can prevent your pipes from freezing

There are many things you can do to keep your pipes from freezing in extreme weather.  Here are just some suggestions:  

  • Keep the water meter area on "outside" walls exposed to heat from nearby rooms.
  • Allow warm air to circulate around pipes.  Open bathroom and kitchen cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing (be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of kids).
  • Better yet, insulate your pipes.  You can buy products made specifically to insulate water pipes, such as "pipe sleeves", "heat tape", "heat cables", or other similar products.  Most of them are available at your local building/home supply center.  Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for installing and using these products. 
  • Check your home for areas where water pipes are located, especially those in unheated areas.  Look in the basement, crawl spaces, attic, garage and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets.  Both hot and cold water pipes should be insulated - one can freeze just as easily as the other if water is not running through the pipe and the temperature around the pipe is cold. 
  • Caulk and seal any openings in outside walls near your water pipes. 
  • Got a swimming pool?  Drain the water according to the manufacturer's or installer's instructions. 
  • Remove, drain, and store any hoses used outdoors.  Close the inside valves that supply outdoor faucets so the water can drain out.  And leave it open, so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break. 
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both day and night.  You may get a higher heating bill by not lowering the temperature at night, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if the pipes freeze and burst.  Don't set the temperature below 60 degrees when you go out. 
  • If it's absolutely necessary, keep some tap water running.  Not a lot; just a trickle.  Moving water doesn't freeze as readily as stagnant water.  Understand, though that this method will result in an increased water bill.
  • If no one will be home for an extended period of time during extreme weather (going to Florida for the winter?), you might consider turning your main valve off altogether and hiring a plumber to drain your system, including all water pipes and fixtures.  That way, there will be no water in your pipes to freeze.  Even if your pipes have never frozen before, there's always the chance that a severe cold snap could cause an electrical blackout that disables your furnace.  Winterizing your water system will ensure that your pipes don't freeze. 

Show All Answers

1. Which parts of the water service line is my responsibility, and which parts are the responsibility of the MFWD?
2. What if my main shut off valve won't work in an emergency?
3. How should I maintain the main water shut off valves?
4. What are some common reasons for frozen pipes?
5. How will I know if my pipes are frozen?
6. Why do frozen water pipes break?
7. Do water service lines (pipes that run from the house to the street) freeze as well as indoor pipes?
8. What is a water service line?
9. What should I do if my pipes freeze?
10. Can I try thawing the pipes myself?
11. How you can prevent your pipes from freezing