How to Protect Your Pipes During a Winter Deep Freeze

Over the past few years, winter weather has been erratic and unpredictable, but you shouldn't count on mild weather surprising you in the winter months when you have freeze-vulnerable plumbing. When the temperature drops, many homes have pipes that are at risk of freezing. In order to prevent a mid-winter plumbing catastrophe, you need to know where your pipes are vulnerable and what to do to protect them.

Finding Freeze-Vulnerable Plumbing

When it comes to finding your vulnerable plumbing, the best thing to keep in mind is that all exposed pipes are at risk. Crawl spaces, attics, and any exposed pipe that enters your home can be at risk of freezing. It is best to check around all exterior walls and take measures. Sometimes pipes can freeze inside a kitchen cabinet, such as under the sink, because the insulation in that area isn't as strong and the cabinet itself traps the cold air in.

Insulating Freeze-Vulnerable Plumbing

When it comes to preventing pipe freezes, it is best to look into more permanent fixes rather than temporary ones for the long term. In many cases, preventing freezing can be a simple matter of adding insulation. Whether it be installing more insulation in the area or using a heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cable, it can fix a freezing problem. Furthermore, you need to be diligent in sealing any areas where cold air can get in. This not only helps pipes, but will help your heating efficiency as well.

However, if the temperature is dropping and you are concerned, there are temporary fixes you can employ. The most popular one is to let a small amount of warm water drip through your faucet, preferably on an exterior wall. The movement of water is sometimes all it takes to prevent a freeze. Furthermore, you should open up cabinets with pipes so the warm air from your home can circulate in.

What to Do If a Pipe is Frozen?

If winter is already here and a pipe is already frozen, you may be able to find methods to unfreeze it online, but it is not recommended. A plumber will be able to find the best way to thaw out a pipe without risking damage to the pipe itself. If a pipe is frozen, all faucets should be turned off and a plumber should be called. If a pipe has actually frozen and burst, the main water valve should be shut off and all faucets turned on to prevent further water damage until a plumber arrives.