How to Protect Your Pipes in Cold Weather

Winter weather is here, and there are a variety of steps you should take around your home to protect it against the long cold season. Your pipes are one potential area of vulnerability. If they get too cold, they could freeze, and too much freezing and expansion could cause them to burst, which could result in some catastrophic damage to your home—so it’s important for you to prioritize winter pipe protection.

Here are some tips for how to protect your pipes in cold weather:

  • Keep your garage doors closed: This is a tip for those who have an attached garage, and it’s especially important if you have water supply lines that flow through it. Keeping the garage doors closed will provide some extra insulation against the cold outdoor air and make it more difficult for pipes running through the area to freeze.
  • Let water drip from a faucet: If you have a faucet that is served by exposed pipes, you should let cold water drip slowly through the faucet. This keeps water running through the pipe, which will help prevent it from freezing.
  • Open cabinet doors: Opening up cabinet doors in the kitchen and bathroom can circulate warm air around the plumbing. This is especially important if you have sinks that are located on exterior walls. Just make sure you remove any harmful cleaning agents or chemicals if you have small children or pets that might attempt to get at them.
  • Leave the heat on when away: If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, you can reduce the heat; however, you should still keep the heat on to at least 55°F (ideally, at 60°F or above). You need to make sure the pipes will not freeze in your absence. If that happens, you could return home to major damage to your home.
  • Add insulation: If you’re interested in getting longer-term protection so you don’t have to take short-term mitigation steps every year, you can add insulation to some of the more vulnerable areas of your home. Add insulation to attics, crawl spaces, basements and more. You can also seal up areas where there might be drafts coming through, such as areas around windows, doors and outlets.
  • Set your thermostat: Make sure your schedule on your thermostat keeps a certain level of warmth, even overnight. While it’s okay to vary the level of heat you get throughout the day in your home, it should never fall below a certain level. This is especially important during cold snaps. It’s better to stay warm than to save money and risk frozen pipes.
  • Wrap exposed pipes: If you have pipes that are clearly exposed to cold air, you can attempt to wrap them with pipe insulation or heated blankets. This will help you prevent them from freezing.

For more tips on how to protect your pipes in cold weather and some of the best methods of winter pipe protection, we encourage you to contact our team at Rapids Plumbing & Heating, Inc.