How to prevent frozen pipes

How to prevent frozen pipes

Pipes stay warm and the water flowing through them keeps flowing only for as long as the air around them remains above freezing. If the air freezes, look out inside! Because once the water freezes, the ice that forms inside your pipes can prevent water flowing to your faucets. Worse yet, your pipes can burst, causing a mess at the very least and expensive repairs and water damage at the extreme.

The pipes most likely to freeze are those in unheated spaces. Pretty obvious, right? Well, what’s not so obvious is if you have any unheated spaces that you’re not aware of and just can’t see such as under the garage floor, outdoors or in crawl spaces. Even pipes inside your cabinets are at risk should the temperature be set too low or your heat turn off. If that happens, open all your cabinet doors so that whatever heat is left can reach them, too.

Here’s something else to consider. If you have an older home and pipes are located inside the exterior walls, they’re probably fine as heat can and will penetrate your walls to provide just enough heat to keep the water flowing. But if you were to suddenly add insulation inside those same walls, guess what? Now you’re keeping all the heat indoors and leaving those pipes at the mercy of outdoor temperatures.

Follow these simple prevention measures and you’ll have one less reason to call a professional plumber. You have several options, some of which you can combine:

  • Don’t turn your thermostat below 60°F.
  • If pipes run under your attached garage, keep the door closed.
  • Insulate exposed pipes with foam tubing. They’re slit on the side to make it easy to do this on your own.
  • Another way to insulate pipes is with electric heating cables that neatly wrap around the pipes which you would then secure with tape.
  • If you’re expecting frigid temperatures overnight and you KNOW you have un-insulated and exposed pipes, turn on one of your faucets just a little to keep the water flowing.
  • If you undertake a remodeling job, hire a plumber to relocate any exposed pipes to a warmer location.

A family owned and operated residential plumbing company in Germantown, Md., Your 1 Plumber is a customer-focused company that has been serving homeowners in Montgomery, Prince George, Howard and Fredrick counties for more than 15 years.

As of February 14, 2013 this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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Pipes in attics and outside walls are especially vulnerable to freezing. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Bret S.)
Pipes in attics and outside walls are especially vulnerable to freezing. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Bret S.)

Winter has arrived in Washington along with Christmas and New Year's. When you're thinking about staying warm and cozy consider the same for your water pipes.

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