Snow-covered winter weather presents a great opportunity for fun activities like sledding down a nearby hill or snowball fights in the back yard. That being said, winter weather can be tough on your home. Excessively cold conditions can encourage the water lines in your home to freeze and burst, which may cause severe water damage and long-lasting negative effects.

When your pipes are frozen, you might need to hire a plumber in to fix them. Nevertheless, there’s multiple things you can perform on your own to prevent this from happening – and even a little prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at Risk of Freezing

The pipes at the greatest risk of freezing are uninsulated water lines. Frequent locations for exposed pipes are inside attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running underneath a modular home. Water lines that are not correctly insulated are at the greatest risk.

How to Stop Pipes from Becoming Frozen in Your Home

Sufficiently insulating uncovered water lines is a great first step to keeping your pipes safe. You’ll generally locate many of these materials from your local plumbing company, and might also already have some somewhere in your home.

Be careful not to wrap up other flammable insulation materials where they may light on fire. If you don’t feel safe insulating the pipes yourself, contact your local plumbing services professional in to handle the job.

If you do choose to insulate the pipes on your own, popular insulation materials for pipes consist of:

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Many plumbers, hardware stores and big box retailers sell insulation – commonly fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can wrap or fit around your pipes. They are sold in different lengths and sizes to satisfy the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: To some degree, newspaper can be used as insulation. If the weather is cooling down and you aren’t able to buy insulation in time, try wrapping uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you miss the opportunity to add insulation and don’t have any newspaper handy, wrapping particularly vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a last-ditch effort may be just enough to keep the cold air from freezing the pipes.

Another preventative step you can take to prevent pipes from being covered in ice is to seal any cracks that may allow cold air in your home. Pay close attention to window frames, which can let in surprisingly powerful drafts. Not only will this help to stop your pipes from freezing, but it will have the extra benefit of making your home more energy efficient.

Five More Ways to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing:

  • Open the cabinet doors. Opening the cabinet doors underneath the sinks and other spaces of your home that have pipes will permit more warm air from the rest of the room to get to the pipes.
  • Letting water drip. Keeping the water flowing by letting your faucets trickle even just a bit can help avoid frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors between rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more equally. This is particularly important if you have a room that is generally colder or hotter than the rest of the home.
  • Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors advice is the garage door, which you should keep closed – particularly if your water lines can be found near or under the garage.
  • Keep the heat consistent. Experts encourage setting the thermostat at a persistent temperature and leaving it there, rather than permitting it to get colder at night. Set it no cooler than 55 degrees.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Empty Home

When you’re inside a house, it’s easier to realize when something breaks down. But what added steps can you take to keep pipes from freezing in an unused home or vacation home when the damages from a frozen pipe may not be discovered for some time?

As with the main residence, insulating any exposed water lines, opening interior doors inside the home and winterizing the vacant home are the best steps to try at first.

Other Steps to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home:

  1. Leave the heat on. Even though you aren’t going to be there, it’s best to leave the heat on – even if you switch the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary home, experts encourage keeping the temperature at no colder than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be gone for a long time or are winterizing a rustic cabin or cottage, switching the water off to the house and draining the water out of the water lines is an easy way to prevent pipes from freezing and bursting open. Don’t forget to drain the water out of all appliances, such as the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. Make sure you get all the water from the plumbing. If you’re unsure of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel comfortable doing it without any help, a plumber in will be glad to offer support.