Of the many consequences that cold weather can bring in NEPA, frozen pipes are one of the most destructive. Repairing burst pipes could end up costing you hundreds of dollars and lead to issues like mold and foundation cracks. For people with burst pipes, we also recommend a follow-up home inspection to ensure further damage has not occurred. 

Unfortunately, frozen pipes can occur in homes with both plastic and copper pipes, so it is important to know what to do to prevent them. By taking the following precautions, you can reduce the risk of frozen water pipes and the resulting damage a bursting pipe can cause.

  1. Insulate Your Pipes

You can first begin insulating exposed pipes, as these are the most susceptible to freezing. Heat tape and cables can be used to wrap around pipes and retain heat. When using these tapes and cables, it is important that you use products approved by an independent testing organization and only for how you intend to use them, for either exterior or interior pipes. You should also follow all directions provided on the packaging. 

  1. Seal All Leaks

Sealing air leaks in your basement and attic can also be beneficial as it will prevent cold air from entering these areas and freezing your pipes. You should start by looking for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents and pipes, and then use caulk or expanding foam insulation to keep the cold out. 

  1. Open Cabinets to Allow Heat In

Opening cabinet doors can allow heat to reach uninsulated pipes that are under your sinks. Do this in any area of the home where pipes are present, such as bathrooms and kitchens. If you have pipes that run along the wall through bedrooms, open up panels and allow heat from the home to keep these pipes warm. 

  1. Allow Water to Trickle

Allowing a trickle of hot or cold water to drip overnight can also prevent the freezing of your pipes. Any water, regardless of the temperature, will help melt ice that forms inside the pipe, preventing it from freezing.  

  1. Disconnect Outdoor Hoses

Securing outdoor houses, valves, and faucets is also an important winter maintenance tip to remember. You should disconnect your garden hose and, if possible, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain the water from the pipes leading to your outside faucets. This reduces the chances of your pipes freezing in the short amount of pipe inside of your home.

  1. Turn Up Your Thermostat

Adjusting your thermostat can also be yet another way to protect your pipes. By keeping your thermostat set at the same temperature during the day and night, you prevent freezing, and during extreme cold, this helps to reduce the strain that your furnace may also be facing.

  1. Insulate Attics and Basements

If you want long-term relief against frozen pipes, you’ll need to upgrade the insulation in areas of your home where pipes are exposed, such as attics or basements. Work with an insulation contractor to install your insulation so that all areas are properly ventilated. 

What to Do If Your Pipes Do Freeze

Now that you know what should be done to prevent freezing pipes, what happens if yours freeze?

If you turn on your faucet and nothing comes out leave it turned on and call a plumber! You should also avoid the use of appliances near water, as areas with standing water could cause electrocution. 

You should shut off your water supply if your pipes have already burst by cutting them off from the main supply. With the faucet still on, take a hair dryer (if you’re not near standing water) and heat the pipe to allow the ice to thaw. 

Winterizing your pipes will help shield them from the threat of frost. Now that you know what things can be done to prevent your pipes from freezing and the tools necessary if something does go astray to help you, you can rest easy this winter!