The snowy winter weather presents a great opportunity for things like sledding down the highest hill or snowball fights in the front 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 result in significant water damage and lasting negative effects.

When your pipes are frozen, you may want to contact a plumber in to fix them. However, there’s multiple things you can attempt to keep this from happening – and even minor prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at Risk of Freezing

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

How to Stop Pipes from Freezing in Your Home

Properly insulating exposed water lines is a good first step to keeping your pipes safe. You’ll generally locate lots of these materials from the local plumbing company, and may also already have some somewhere in your home.

Be mindful not to wrap up other flammable insulation materials where they might light on fire. If you don’t feel confident insulating the pipes yourself, get in touch with your local plumbing services professional in to get the job done right.

If you do choose to insulate the pipes by yourself, good insulation materials for pipes are:

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Most plumbers, hardware stores and national retailers offer insulation – typically fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to wrap or fit around your pipes. They are offered in different lengths and sizes to satisfy the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: In a pinch, newspaper can be used as an insulator. If the weather is getting colder and you aren’t able to add insulation before then, consider covering uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you don't have the chance to install insulation and don’t have any newspaper close by, wrapping notably vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a final effort can be just enough to keep the cold air away from the pipes.

An additional preventative step you can attempt to keep pipes from being covered in ice is to fill any cracks that may allow cold air inside your home. Focus on the window frames, which can let in surprisingly strong drafts. This not only will help to stop your pipes from freezing, but it will have the added 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 beneath the sinks and other rooms of your home with pipes will permit more warm air from the rest of the room to reach the pipes.
  • Letting water drip. Keeping a flow of water by letting your faucets move even a small amount can help avoid frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors in rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more evenly. This is especially important if there's 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 shut – particularly if your water lines are installed under the garage.
  • Keep the heat consistent. Experts encourage setting the thermostat at a constant temperature and leaving it alone, rather than letting it get cooler at night. Set it no colder than 55 degrees.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home

When you’re inside a house, it’s not difficult to recognize when something goes wrong. But what added steps can you attempt to prevent pipes from freezing in an unused home or vacation home when the damages from a frozen pipe might not be discovered for some time?

As with the main residence, placing extra insulation around any exposed water lines, opening interior doors throughout the home and winterizing the vacant home are the first steps to attempt first.

Other Steps to Stop 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 cooler than you would if you were there. As with a primary home, experts recommend keeping the temperature at no lower than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be away for several weeks or are winterizing a rustic cabin or cottage, turning the water off to the house and clearing the water out of the water lines is an easy way to stop pipes from freezing and bursting. Remember to flush the water out of all appliances, including the hot water heater, and the toilets. See to it that you clear out all the water from the plumbing. If you're uncertain of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel confident doing it without any help, a plumber in will be delighted to offer support.