The Ultimate Guide to Avoiding Frozen Pipes This Winter

thawing frozen pipes

It’s getting cold enough to wear scarves and sweaters, but your pipes aren’t quite so weather-savvy. They need a little help getting through the winter. Pipes are at risk of freezing and bursting regardless of material; the real culprit is water, which expands as it freezes. With that expansion comes a great deal of pressure, and that’s what can lead to cracks and breaks. Frozen pipes can quickly become a very expensive plumbing problem; it's much more cost effective to take measures to prevent frozen pipes than it is to fix them after they've burst.

Frozen Pipe Problem Areas

Some pipes in your home’s plumbing structure are in more danger of freezing than others. Frozen pipe problem spots include:

  • Outdoor areas exposed to severe cold, such as outdoor hose bibs and water lines to swimming pools and sprinkler systems.
  • Unheated interior areas with exposed pipes. This includes crawl spaces, basements, garages, attics, and even kitchen and laundry room cabinets.
  • Exterior walls that have no- or low-insulation pipes that running along them.

Take the time to familiarize yourself with the causes of frozen pipes to understand why Charlotte homes are at particularly high risk. Many homeowners erroneously assume that we are safe from the threat of frozen pipes because we live in such a warm climate. However, our homes are not built for the cold, so we are especially vulnerable when a cold snap hits.

Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes

The bad news is that burst pipes are an expensive and ruinous hassle. The good—very good—news is that there’s a lot you can do to prevent disaster and protect your home. Here are a few things you can do:

Keep those pipes warm. You know how we mentioned sweaters? Well, you can’t get pipe sweaters, but you can get foam insulation. You can also use heat tape, a heat lamp, or a low-watt light bulb. (Always be mindful of placement and installation to avoid fire hazards.)

Not sure how to insulate pipes? Follow this guide and learn how to insulate exposed pipes.

Protect crawl spaces. Crawl spaces need to breathe to combat moisture, but when a freeze hits (or stays), close the vents until the freeze is over. Another tactic is to insulate your crawl space along the edges with foam board (it will keep your home warmer, too!). Learn more about what you can do in your crawl space here.

Open the cabinets. Keeping the doors open on the coldest of nights will allow heat from the house to reach those cold interior pipes.

Trickle water on extremely cold nights or while you’re away. The flow will prevent freezing. Better to waste a small amount of water than to wake up or come home to a pipe burst.

Drain outside water sources. Drain hoses, water sprinkler lines, and swimming pool lines. For hoses, close the inside water valves that supply the outdoor hose bibs, then drain them. Keep the outside valve open—this will ensure that any water trapped in the pipes won’t cause breakage. Store them afterward.

Need further instructions for winterizing your irrigation system? Learn everything you need to know here.

On well water? If you have a well, you will want to follow these steps to winterize your well.

Suspect It's Too Late? Worried Your Pipes Are Already Frozen?

Learn how to tell if your pipes are frozen, how to find which segments of your pipes are frozen, and how to thaw frozen pipes safely and effectively here. This detailed guide will walk you through everything you need to do, step-by-step.

Frozen Pipe Burst? Call us.

If your pipes burst or if you need assistance with insulating those pipes or blowing out that irrigation system, contact us. We serve a 25-mile radius around Charlotte and have been helping customers since 1997. Give us a call at (704) 846-5371 or use our contact form. Find out why our motto is “Serviced Once, Client for Life.”

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Prevent pipes from freezing

Article Summary

Quick question & answer: How can I prevent my pipes from freezing this winter?

To prevent your pipes from freezing this winter, keep them warm with foam insulation. Protect crawl spaces by insulating along the edges with foam board. Open cabinet doors on cool nights so heat can reach cold interior pipes. Trickle water on cold nights or when you’re away to keep a pipe from bursting. Drain outside water sources.

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