How To Protect Your Home's Water Pipes All Winter

Your home’s pipes deliver water to the kitchen and bathrooms. These pipes could freeze during harsh cold winter weather, though, and leave you without water for meals, showers and other activities, which affects your health and wellbeing. Take several steps to prevent frozen pipes, and know how to thaw frozen pipes properly as you protect your home and family this winter.

Prevent Frozen Pipes

Most homes are built to withstand cold temperatures. However, design flaws, foundation weaknesses or unexpectedly low temperatures increase the likelihood that your home’s pipes will freeze. When the weather forecast calls for freezing temperatures, prep your home in several ways as you prevent frozen water pipes.
  • Close crawl space vents and insulate areas around exposed pipes to protect the pipes from cold air.
  • Turn on faucets and let them drip overnight. This tip is particularly important for the faucets attached to exposed pipes or located near exterior walls that get cold quickly.
  • Open cabinet doors to keep the pipes warm. As a side note, remove cleaning solutions and other harmful items from the cabinets to protect your kids and pets.
  • Maintain the same indoor temperature day and night. Turning the thermostat down during the day or at night can save you money, but a consistent indoor temperature of at least 55 degrees can protect your water pipes.
Thaw Frozen Pipes

Despite your best efforts, your water pipes could freeze as temperatures plummet. Thaw pipes properly with several steps.  

  • Shut off the main water supply to the frozen pipes. If the pipes have burst, this step will prevent major damage to your home.
  • Turn on the faucets. As the ice melts, water will begin to flow slowly again and speed the thawing process.
  • Apply heat to the frozen pipes until they fully thaw. For safety, wrap a heating pad or hot towels around the pipe or use a hair dryer.
  • Exercise caution when thawing pipes. Never use an open flame or a propane or kerosene heater because these devices could cause a fire. Also, don’t overload circuits, use space heaters or leave your oven door open as you attempt to get your water flowing.
  • Call a plumber if your DIY attempts don’t work. He or she will find the troublesome pipe, fix the problem and restore your running water.
This winter, take several steps to protect your water pipes from freezing or to thaw frozen pipes safely. You should also update your homeowners insurance policy. It provides valuable protection if a frozen or burst pipe damages your home. Your insurance agent can also share tips that protect your water pipes and home this winter.
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