Keep Your Pipes From Freezing This Winter
One of the most common winter plumbing problems happens when your pipes freeze. This can create too much pressure inside the pipe. Then the pipe bursts and, once the water thaws, you have a mess on your hands and water damage to clean up in your home.
Avoid this by keeping your pipes flowing all winter long. Here’s how:
Keep The Heat On…At Least a Little
You don’t have to turn your heat all the way up for it to help keep your pipes thawed. Try setting your thermostat to at least 50 degrees even when you’re out of town. This helps reduce your energy usage but keeps your home warm enough that pipes shouldn’t freeze. Note that you may still need to take extra precautions with pipes that run along an outside wall or that are in an uninsulated space.
Let it Drip
If there’s a pipe that you’re especially worried about, turn on that faucet that the pipe feeds and let it drip. This alleviates the pressure. Even if the pipe does freeze, the water is less likely to build up inside and cause it to burst. Then you can thaw the pipe without risking damage to your home.
Open (Doors) Wide
If you’re concerned about pipes that are located inside cabinets, open the cabinet doors to optimize airflow. That way, more of the heated air in the room will end up in the cabinet. This may not seem like it would help much, but it can make a huge difference!
Seal it Up
If there are cracks or holes where pipes run through walls (especially from inside to outside), seal these up. Use caulk to fill them in or try spray foam for larger openings. Whenever possible, seal from both the inside and the outside. All of this sealing keeps cold air from outside from getting in and freezing your pipes.
Try Heating Tape
Wrap pipes that tend to freeze in heating tape. Try to find tape that turns on when it senses that heat is needed, then turns off again when things warm out. Another kind of tape stays on all the time and must be plugged in. This can be a fire hazard and is usually used to thaw frozen pipes, not keep pipes from freezing in the first place.
Insulate, Insulate, Insulate!
Add insulation to areas where you have a lot of pipes. Think particularly about basements, attics, and garages. These areas tend to be colder than the rest of the house and may not be properly insulated to protect pipes. You can either insulate the entire space or put insulating sleeves on the pipes to protect them. Either way, keep as much heat on those pipes as possible.