Winter is fast approaching and with that comes the risk of frozen pipes. And while you may not be able to control the freezing temperatures, you can take steps to prevent freezing pipes and all the problems that come with them. It isn’t just
outdoor pipes you need to worry about, those inside can freeze as well,
especially those that are in an attic, a crawl space or close to outside walls.
Insulate your pipes – pipes located in an attic or crawl space should be insulated – the more insulation the better. Home and hardware stores have foam pipe sleeves you can use to protect the pipes. Make sure you don’t leave any gaps; even a small gap can cause the water in the pipe to freeze.
Use heat tape for outdoor pipes or those that are prone to freezing – heat tape, also known as heat cables wraps around the pipes and needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet. Look for heat tapes that are UL approved and have a
thermostat so they only come on when the temperature reaches a certain point.
Check your home for air leaks – small holes, such as those around electrical or cable wiring or dryer vents can bring in the cold air and cause your pipes to freeze. Close up holes with insulation and caulk to keep the cold out.
Open cabinets around sinks located on outside walls – pipes under your sink can freeze, especially if the sink is located against an outside wall. During cold snaps, keep your cabinets open to allow the warm air from inside the house to get to your pipes.
Keep your faucet open – a slow drip will decrease the water pressure in your pipes. While most people think that pipes burst at the place where the water freezes, this isn’t true. As the water in the pipe freezes, water pressure between the ice and a closed faucet increases and can cause your pipe to freeze. Keeping your faucet open, even with a slow drip, will decrease the pressure and minimize your risk of freezing pipes.
When going out of town, drain your pipes before you leave – turn off water to your house at the main shut off and open every faucet (hot and cold) to let water drain from the pipes. Once all the pipes have emptied, you don’t need to leave every faucet open.