How to Keep Water Pipes from Freezing

Leave a Comment - 26


C. Luskin

Subject: plumbing

An inanimate object is not susceptable to the wind- as in the above script which says wind adds to the occurrance of freezing pipes.

Louis Viscomi

Subject: wind effect

Sorry, Mr. Luskin. You are terribly wrong. The term 'wind chill' represents the difference between the measured static temperature and the effect of wind pulling more heat from any object. That is why a fan blowing on you has a cooling effect even though you are (ahem) inanimate.

Jim Brannon

Subject: Line to outside faucet.

I have a long inside water line that runs along the outside wall faucet. It is very difficult to get to and has burst twice. I let a company spray insulation after encapsulating the rather large are and now wonder if that was the best solution. Should I have it torn out and reroute the line or is what they did a good practice and should quit worrying.

Patrick O'Connell

Subject: Water Pipes Freezing

If you have any old style incandescent lights, put a 100 watts bulb in the area where the water pipes comes in. (bad move outlawing them-new style don't give off heat) Generally that's enough to keep the water moving except in the coldest weather. An oil filled heater is a good substitute for the light bulb or a backup in the coldest weather.


Subject: winter vacation

To keep pipes from freezing while I'm away, I turn off the main water valve that admits water to the house. Then I drain all the water out of the pipes.


Subject: Vacation

What to do when I'm going on vacation in the winter months?


Subject: RE: Vacation during the winter

I always have success when the last thing before I depart for a winter vacation is to turn off the water main, and then drain the pipes by opening both the hot and cold faucets at a sink. If there's no water in the pipes, then they can burst due to frozen water.

Dean Gallea

Subject: Wind chill not a factor

Thermodynamics 101: Water standing still in a pipe doesn't know or care if the freezing air around it is calm or blowing at gale force. The only thing that the wind does is cool the water in the pipe faster. But, if you are relying on water flowing through the pipe to keep it from freezing, that's where it helps to protect the pipe from wind or to insulate it.

Also, insulation alone will not prevent a pipe from freezing if water is not flowing from a higher-temperature source. Insulation only slows down the freeze, hopefully until warmer water flows through again.


Subject: Thermodynamics

Well, I didn't take 'Thermodynamics 101,' but I do understand that, as described in the second law of thermodynamics, heat moves from warmer to colder. In the case of pipes, the water is warmer than the surrounding air, so the heat leaves the water to go into that air which leads to the water freezing and the pipes bursting. The colder that surrounding air is (and the larger the delta), the faster this will occur. If there is no air movement, as the heat transfers, it will slightly raise the temperature of the air, reducing the delta and, consequently, the flow of heat, which will slow down the rate of the water freezing. If there's wind, it will constantly be removing that heat, preventing any such buildup of it, which will keep the delta higher and cause the water in the pipe to freeze faster. Granted, the effect of this will typically be minimal, but in a small space it could certainly make a difference. As to your other comments, if the water is moving, this will help to negate the impact of the wind (you seem to imply it's the only time the wind WOULD have an effect on it). This is because a) moving water needs to be at a lower temperature to freeze, and b) as heat is lost from the water it is constantly moving along and "new" water that hasn't yet lost that heat is coming through to replace it. And this "new" water is at a minimum at the temperature of the house's cold water inlet (minus what little heat it's lost up to that point), so while it may not be warm, it's much warmer than freezing and enough to prevent freezing (unless, of course, the surrounding air is ridiculously cold). So in other words, it's ALWAYS "flowing from a higher-temperature source."


Subject: Beware the drain pipe freezing

I have a bathroom that has outside wall plumbing that can freeze up in extreme cold. However, when you leave your faucets open to avoid frozen pipes keep an eye out that the slow trickle of water doesn't wind up freezing and eventually clogging up the drain pipe. This will end up overflowing your sink and creating an unexpected mess.


Subject: Pump shutting down

I live in an old home and have a cottage on the same property that is rented out. All lines are off the same well. There are 2 weak spots....under kitchen sink in rental and a crawl space under my kitchen. The pump is located there. I have heat tape around the pipes in the crawl space and extra insulation around the cottage kitchen pipes. When the temps dip to the teens I turn on a small utility heater in the crawl space and also keep faucets open at a drip. The other day started out fine and then the temps drastically dipped to the negative teens. Thankfully I was still home before heading to work. I checked everything...or so I thought. I believe that what happened was the cord for the heat tape got jimmied out of the electrical socket just enough to cause it to turn off. So.....just a handy little reminder...check the plugs! :)


Subject: Letting faucets drip.

Can you imagine everyone in the same area letting their faucets drip at the same time?

We have had to be told not to do that here, as it causes problems with the fire department having water pressures too low to be able to put out fires.

I can't imagine plumbing experts suggesting that people let their faucets drip.


Subject: WHY NOT?

Just curious, why not use a hair drier or heat to thaw a frozen pipe?

Scott Ramey

Subject: to answer your question Terry

Cover the foundation vents with styerfoam vent covers to save on your heating bill and protect your water lines! Terry crack both got and cold because your hot water line stays stagnate when not used for a long period and could freeze as well. They did not day it should be a steady stream of eager about the size of a pencil lead as well! However plastic lines in New Homes are meant to expand and that's one reason they use them but no one wants to risk telling people it won't freeze in case somehow a line breaks! But you should be fine. Also garages are not often insulated and if you havea house bib on corner of garage the line are probably not insulated and should be checked so cut a hope in insulation and check!

murlen paul

Subject: freezing pipes

when would pipes freeze. when the temperature gets to 30 degress with no winor when it is 32 degrees and wind chill is 10 degrees

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.