Preventing Frozen Pipes

Before Cold Weather, Prepare

  • Make sure that all the garden hoses outside your home are disconnected. Failing to do so can cause not only the hose but also the hose bib to which it is connected, to freeze and be damaged.  This is especially important with “frost free” hose bibs. The hose must be disconnected to make the faucet freeze-proof. Failure to do so will trap water in the faucet body, which then can freeze. If the hose is disconnected, the anti-freeze faucet can properly drain, and this will prevent freezing.
  • Water pipes which are exposed to freezing temperatures or drafts should be covered with insulation. Whenever possible it is best to drain systems not being used in severely cold weather. Small water pipes will freeze quicker than will waste or sewer pipes.
  • Prevent drafts of frigid winter air. Secure all crawl space openings or windows and insulate and caulk any cracks in the structure’s foundation.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Many products are available at your local building supplies retailer. Pipes should be carefully wrapped, with ends butted tightly and joints wrapped with tape. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for installing and using these products.

During Cold Weather, Take Preventive Action

  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe—even at a trickle—helps prevent pipes from freezing because the temperature of the water running through it is above freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55ºF.