Keeping Your Pipes from Freezing

by April Reinhardt
(last updated October 30, 2017)

When I was a newlywed, we lived in Appalachia where the housing is either antiquated or prefabricated. Our first home was the former, since we could not afford the latter. Although the house was fully plumbed, it did not have a pump to extract the water from the well. We eventually saved enough money to buy and install a pump, and my then-husband hooked the plumbing to the pump that hot summer, and we finally had water at our fingertips when we turned on the faucets inside the house. That winter, however, we learned the hard way that the PVC pipes under the house were not insulated, so the water inside froze, expanded, and burst the pipes. I spent many frigid hours underneath the house in the tiny crawl space with my husband, holding a flashlight while he patched the pipes and then insulated them.

Whether your water source is from a well or your city, it enters your home as cold water. Keeping the water from turning to ice during cold weather is easily preventable, and can save you much time, energy, and money in repairs. Plan ahead while the weather is still warm, and then follow these guidelines for keeping your pipes from freezing in cold weather:

  • Inspect the pipes. Inspect your home and determine the location of all of your water pipes. Note the location on a piece of paper. While you're writing down the location of the pipes, inspect existing insulation and make note of those pipes that need to be reinsulated. And certainly note which pipes have no insulation. This way, you can determine how much insulation to buy.
  • Check the locations. Check pipes that are particularly vulnerable to cold weather, such as in crawl spaces, along outside walls, under the house, in the garage, or any other unheated location. Install insulation accordingly.
  • Get the insulation. Visit your local home improvement or hardware store and buy pipe insulation and install it.
  • Limit the water. Before freezing weather sets in, turn off the water supply to outside faucets. On particularly cold nights, allow a trickle of hot water to run through your taps, since flowing water won't freeze as rapidly as still water.

Other measures you can take are to install electrically powered heat tape to your pipes; use heating lamps to warm the area; use fiberglass insulation to wrap not only the pipes, but joints, as well; and eliminate drafts to crawl spaces.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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