Freezing temperatures increase the risk of pipes freezing, rupturing and leaking. When water freezes, it expands. This means that pipes filled with water can expand and burst, putting the entire plumbing system at risk of rupture. To help prevent a plumbing catastrophe in the dead of winter, be sure to take the following eight precautionary steps.
- Install pipe insulation.
Install fiberglass, polyethylene or foam insulation to protect plumbing pipes in your attic, garage or basement. Focus on insulating pipes in unheated, interior spaces of the home.
- Seal cracks.
Walk around your home and check for holes, cracks or openings around windows, door frames, cable holes in the walls and floors. Seal the openings with caulking on exterior and interior walls. This will help keep warm air indoors and prevent freezing.
- Apply electrical heating tape to pipes.
Electrical heating tape can help pipes retain heat, especially if they’re located in unheated or exterior locations, such as basements or attics.
A self-monitoring electrical heating tape has a sensor and automatically turns on and off depending on the pipe’s temperature. A manual heating tape must be plugged in to heat pipes.
- Seal crawl spaces.
If temperatures drop very low, you may need to temporarily cover ventilated crawl spaces in the home. This can help reduce the cold air circulating around the pipes.
Cover vents with foam and use duct tape to secure it in place.
- Let faucets drip.
Determine which faucets are fed by exposed piping and leave them dripping. This helps create friction, which produces a small amount of heat and makes it harder for the water and pipes to freeze.
- Keep the garage door closed.
Many homes have the supply lines going through the garage. Because most garages are made with concrete floors, the space is likely to be very cool, compared to other rooms in the house.
- Open cabinets and interior doors regularly.
Doing so will help keep warm air circulating throughout the home and prevent ice blockages and pressure buildup in the pipes.
- Maintain a minimum indoor temperature of 55℉.
Though keeping a lower indoor temperature could help lower your heating bill, the savings are not worth the risk of damaged plumbing pipes.