Lots of snow and winter weather presents a great opportunity for fun activities like sledding down a nearby hill or snowball fights in the neighbor's yard. At the same time, winter weather can be hard on your home. Excessively cold conditions can encourage the water lines in your home to freeze and burst, which could lead to severe water damage and long-lasting negative effects.

Once your pipes are covered in ice, you might need to call a plumber in The Bay Area to handle the problem. However, there’s multiple things you can try to stop this from happening – and even minor prevention can go a long way.

What Pipes Are at Risk of Freezing

The pipes at the highest risk of freezing are uninsulated water lines. Common locations for uncovered pipes are inside attic crawlspaces, near exterior walls, in the basement or even running under a modular home. Water lines that are not correctly insulated are at the highest risk.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in Your Home

Properly insulating uncovered water lines is a good first step to keeping your pipes safe. You’ll often locate lots of these materials from a local plumbing company, and may also already have some someplace in your home.

Be mindful not to wrap other flammable insulation materials where they can be caught on fire. If you don’t feel safe insulating the pipes on your own, contact your local plumbing services professional in The Bay Area to handle the job.

If you do choose to insulate the pipes on your own, popular insulation materials for pipes are:

  • Wraps or roll insulation: Many plumbers, hardware stores and large retailers provide insulation – commonly fiberglass, foam wraps or pipe sleeves – that you can use to cover or fit around your pipes. They are offered in numerous lengths and sizes to fit the needs of your home.
  • Newspaper: In a pinch, newspaper can be used for insulation. If the weather is getting colder and you aren’t able to add insulation in time, try wrapping uninsulated pipes in this.
  • Towels or rags: If you miss the opportunity to install insulation and don’t have any newspaper handy, wrapping especially vulnerable pipes with towels or clean rags as a last-ditch effort may be just enough to keep the cold air from freezing the pipes.

One other preventative step you can take to keep pipes from freezing in your home is to fill any cracks that can let cold air into your home. Keep an eye on the window frames, which can allow in surprisingly strong drafts. Not only should this help to keep your pipes from freezing, but it will have the extra benefit of making your home more energy efficient.

Five More Ways to Keep Your Pipes from Freezing:

  • Open the cabinet doors. Opening the cabinet doors underneath the sinks and other rooms of your home with plumbing will allow more warm air from the rest of the room to reach the pipes.
  • Letting water drip. Keeping the water flowing by letting your faucets trickle even just a bit can help avoid frozen pipes.
  • Open interior doors. By opening doors for rooms or hallways, your home can be heated more evenly. This is mostly important if there's a room that is generally colder or hotter than the rest of the home.
  • Close the garage door. The exception to the open doors recommendation is the garage door, which you should keep shut – namely if your water lines can be found near or under the garage.
  • Keep the heat steady. Experts encourage setting the thermostat at a uniform temperature and leaving it in place, rather than letting it get colder at night. Set it no lower than 55 degrees.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in an Empty Home

When you’re in your own home, it’s not difficult to recognize when something isn't right. But what extra steps can you try to keep pipes from freezing in an empty home or vacation home when the consequences from a frozen pipe may not be discovered for days or even weeks?

As with your primary residence, adding insulation to any exposed water lines, opening interior doors inside the home and winterizing the vacant home are the first steps to try at first.

Alternative Steps to Stop Pipes from Freezing in an Unused Home:

  1. Leave the heat on. Even though you aren’t going to be there, it’s best to keep the heat on – even if you switch the thermostat down lower than you would if you were there. As with a primary residence, experts suggest keeping the temperature at no cooler than 55 degrees.
  2. Shut water off and drain the lines. If you’re going to be out of the house for an extended period of time or are winterizing a seasonal cabin or cottage, switching the water off to the house and draining the water out of the water lines is a good way to stop pipes from freezing and breaking. Try not to forget to flush the water out of any appliances, such as the hot water heater, as well as the toilets. See to it that you get all the water from the system. If you are not sure of how to flush the water from the pipes, or don’t feel secure performing it without any help, a plumber in The Bay Area will be glad to assist.