How to Prevent Pipes From Freezing in the Winter

Frozen Pipes

Brace yourself for the winter season. Jack Frost has made his presence known. We use our homes as refuge from the bitter cold, but in our efforts to stay warm, we often neglect other things we could be doing to keep our houses functioning properly in frigid temperatures. Plumbing is an area that often takes a hit when the temperature starts to drop. To help you prevent damage to your living space, we have created an outline of ways to prevent pipes from freezing in the winter season.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

To prevent frozen pipes in your home, it's best practice to keep all water supply piping away from the outside walls. If there is no way around it, and you have to retain them outside, it's important to utilize proper insulation to prevent frozen pipes. This can be done simply with antifreeze pipe jackets.

It’s also wise to insulate pipes in all other unheated areas where cold air could intrude such as crawl spaces, basements, attics, and garages. Resolve any drafts from doors or windows through weatherstripping, sweeps, film, insulated curtains, or a door snake. Closing all your doors and sealing drafts will keep warm air circulating throughout your house and help prevent your indoor pipes from freezing.

Before winter (or if you haven’t done so already), close the shut off valve inside your home that supplies water to your outside spigots to prevent frozen pipes. You can drain each line by opening the spigot until it stops dripping, then close it. What if it’s too late and you’ve found frozen pipes? What’s one to do? Unlike Jack Nicholson in The Shining, we won’t leave you out in the cold. Here are some tricks of the trade that could work if you do happen to encounter frozen pipes.

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Frozen Pipes

What Causes Frozen Pipes?

Frozen pipes occur because they are exposed to extreme cold. This issue is common with water sprinklers, pool supply lines, outdoor hose adapters, or pipes that run along exterior walls and have little to no insulation. However, pipes in unheated indoor areas like crawl spaces, attics, garages, kitchen cabinets, and basements are also susceptible. Frozen pipes impede the flow of water to and from your home, and can also burst if filled with enough concentrated pressure. This means more money spent on repairs in, what’s safe to say, the worst season to have them done.

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Thawing frozen pipes

You’ve probably suspected a frozen pipe if you’ve hit subzero temperatures and no water has come out of your faucet. Sometimes all it takes is a good thaw for your pipes to come back to life. If you are not able to prevent your pipes from freezing, turn on the faucet to help get the water moving on the interior of the pipes. Next, locate the nearest water shut-off valve, but don’t turn it off unless you’ve found that the pipe has actually burst. In that case, reach out to a professional plumber to schedule a water line installation appointment. 

There’s also the trusty hair dryer trick. Hair dryers are very useful for unplugging frozen pipes because they deliver enough heat to a targeted area to dry it without damage. Once you’ve located the frozen part of the pipe, run the dryer up and down the pipe to loosen the frozen water. Start from the faucet and gradually work towards the frozen section. Keep warming it until full water pressure has been restored to the faucet, then reduce the pressure to a steady drip until the cold spell has ended. Give this a try only if you can reach the frozen pipe with a hair dryer; if not, shut off your water valve immediately and call a plumber.

Water Line Repair & Replacement Services

In the event the pipe bursts while you’re warming it (which you’ll know right away by water gushing from it), don’t panic. Our team of licensed plumbers offer reliable water line repair and installation services to homes in Downers Grove and other areas of Illinois. In addition, our team offers other types of emergency plumbing services such as garbage disposal installation, water heater repair, sewer line replacement, and sump pump repairContact a professional plumber to repair the burst pipe. Give us a call by phone at (630) 968-0783 to receive help.