How to Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter


Winter is coming. Last year, Detroit temperatures reached below 5 degrees Fahrenheit. In areas with extreme temperatures, it’s common for pipes to freeze.

As cold weather approaches, it’s important to learn how to keep your property safe and functional. Wondering how to prevent frozen pipes this winter? Keep reading to find out.

Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipes

When the temperature starts lowering outside, you need to take certain measures to keep your water running and your pipes warm.

Some of the recommendations you’ll read might go against your instinct to conserve heat and water, but the additional cost is much less than the cost of repairing frozen pipes.

Here are the different ways to prevent frozen pipes:

Close Garage Doors

Keeping your garage door closed during the cold season can prevent cool air from getting in and ruining your pipes. This recommendation is especially important if your garage is home to water supply lines.

Additionally, disconnect water hoses outdoors and use the indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes that lead to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing by a mile.

Open Cabinet Doors

Opening kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors allows warmer air to circulate in the plumbing system. If your sinks are on an exterior wall, this step is a must.

Let Faucets Drip

Letting cold water drip from the faucets can help prevent the pipes from freezing. Keep faucets barely running overnight, especially if sinks are on an outside wall.

Use Heat Cables or Heat Tape

Thermostatically controlled heat cables or heat tape can be used to wrap pipes and prevent freezing. Make sure the products you use are approved by an independent testing organization.

Make sure to only use cables or tape as intended, they will either be made for interior or exterior use. Follow installation instructions from the manufacturer to ensure best results.

Seal Leaks

Leaks allow cold air to get inside pipes and causes them to freeze. Locate these leaks and thoroughly seal them.

Check for leaks around dryer vents, electrical wiring, and pipes. If you find leaks, use caulk or or insulation to keep out the cold.

You can also seal cracks, window openings, and sill plates, to prevent drafts that can cool rooms and cause freezing.

Adjust the Thermostat

Keeping the thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night. This can help reduce the risk of frozen pipes and can even reduce furnace strain.

If you are leaving your home for a period of days, leave the heat on while you are gone. The temperature should be set no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

For extra protection, you can shut off the water system and drain it before you leave your home for a winter vacation.

Insulate Your Pipes

The best long-term solution for preventing frozen pipes is to insulate them. Add insulation to basements, crawl spaces, and attics.

Pipe insulation in these areas offer better protection for your pipes. Insulation maintains higher temperatures in the home.

What to Do About Frozen Pipes

Even if you follow the best practices, there is a chance that your pipes still freeze. If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle of water comes out, you might have a frozen pipe.

Here’s what you can do to thaw frozen pipes:

Apply Heat to the Pipe

There are different heating devices safe to use to thaw out a frozen pipe. For example, the following are great sources of heat:

  • Electric heating pad
  • Electric hair dryer
  • Towels soaked in hot water
  • Portable space heater (keep away from flammable materials)

Any device with an open flame should not be used. Not only is this dangerous, but high heat can cause pipe damage and may lead to a fire.

Keep applying heat to the pipe until your faucets are running at full speed. Check all faucets around the home to make sure you don’t have additional frozen pipes.

It’s common for multiple pipes to freeze when one freezes.

Turn on Faucets

While you are heating up your frozen pipes, it’s smart to turn on the affected faucets. As you heat the pipes, the ice plug will melt allowing water to flow through.

You’ll be able to tell when your water is restored to full water pressure and running water through the pipes can help melt the ice down.

Call a Professional

There are different risks of frozen pipes. For one, if you suspect frozen pipes and attempt to thaw them out on your own, you could be left with a flooded home.

If the pipe bursts and freezes, the water will come flowing out once you unfreeze the pipe. A professional plumber can prevent this problem.

A licensed plumber is trained to locate the frozen pipe area if you are unable to find it. They can also thaw the pipes and access different areas of the home that might be inaccessible to you.

Learning how to fix frozen pipes takes a while which is why you should always call professionals even if the problem seems minor.

Do You Need a Plumber?

If you want to prevent frozen pipes when the weather is unforgiving, follow the tips in this guide. If you suspect that you have one or more frozen pipes, it’s best to call a plumber.

Plumbers know how to check for frozen pipes and can fix them without causing additional damage to your home.

Do you have frozen pipes? Contact us today to request an appointment or to receive expert advice.