How To Prevent Frozen Pipes

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Icicles on a yellow pipe at sunset .

As the deep winter months settle in, pipes freeze. Pressure can build up and burst pipes, causing all of the unfrozen water to pour into your walls, basement, or wherever the break happens.

Preventative Steps

The most effective way to deal with this problem is addressing it before the problem arises. Inspecting exposed pipes and checking the normal room temperature is a good starting point.

As basements tend to be cooler, so pipes run under the house are always more at risk for freezing. Any water lines that go directly outside for something like a hose are also at a higher risk. Adding extra insulation to these rooms and around the pipes can go a long way.

Signs of Freezing

If you notice a decrease in water flow when you use a sink or shower, you may have ice partially blocking your pipe. During your inspection, if you find any frost sitting on the surface of the pipes, you’re looking at a pipe that is at least partially blocked.

Quick Fixes

When you notice any of these signs, you should contact a professional plumber immediately in order to get them to your home as soon as possible. Once you do that, consider these short-term solutions to try to ease the problem for now:

Turn Up The Heat

If your pipes are freezing, warming up the air around them is clearly a good idea. Gradual heat increase is safer than a rapid change in temperature, as that can actually damage the pipes.

Open Cabinets

Many pipes are hidden away in cabinets, out of sight and out of mind. Cabinets actually act as a barrier from the warm air in your home, and so if there is ice buildup in those pipes, heating the home might not be affecting them as much as you think.

Keep Some Water Flowing

If you notice a decrease in flow, you want to keep that water moving in order to prevent even more freezing. Even though the water is very cold, flowing water is harder to freeze and can actually break up the ice chunks that already exist.

More Permanent

Once the immediate crisis is handled appropriately, you should start thinking about the long term care for your pipes. If it happened once, it’ll happen again, so now is the time to act!

Insulate Spaces and Pipes That Are Freezing

Applying insulation around the pipes may be enough, but insulating the whole room or cabinet is usually worth it to avoid having to do it later.

Reroute Pipes Around Vulnerable Areas

As the most immediately expensive solution, it can also be the most effective. By routing your pipes through warmer areas of your home, you can avoid the current issues.

Apply Heated Tapes To At Risk Pipes

It is possible to apply electrically heated tape to the pipes to make sure they are consistently protected from freezing. Unfortunately, this leads to higher energy costs and isn’t always the best solution.

Call A Licensed Plumber

Professional plumbers know what to look for, and how to most efficiently prevent future problems. Sometimes, a simple fix is all that is necessary, but without having a professional look at the issue, you have no way of knowing how deep the problem goes.

Don’t Go It Alone!

Freezing pipes are evidence of a long-term problem. If they have already begun to freeze, or if they have frozen in the past, that issue will not go away on its own. The house isn’t moving out of your temperature zone! Smaller scale solutions may help in the short-term. However, when it comes to making sure your pipes are protected and secure, a licensed professional will have all of the tools and knowhow to guarantee a proper fix.