11 Ways to Prevent Pipes from Freezing

Who's up for another hit from the polar vortex? Probably no one, but it's best to be prepared. Make sure your home is safe from the dreaded damage-causing frozen pipes with these prevention tips.

The average insurance claim for busted water pipes is more than $10,000, according to Nationwide Insurance. To prevent you from being a part of that statistic, we've compiled a list of 11 ways to keep the pipes in your home from freezing.

Which Pipes are at Risk?
All pipes are at risk for freezing and bursting when temperatures surrounding them reach below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or the point at which water freezes. But those that are most susceptible to the problem are usually found in unheated areas of the home such as crawl spaces, the attic, basement and garage.

Preventative Measures
For pipes that need a little extra help to stay warm in the winter, here are some tricks:

1. Turn up the heat throughout the house. This will in turn add more warmth to unheated areas.

2. Add insulation where needed to help keep out the cold and hold in the heat.

3. Seal any air leaks around plumbing with caulk or spray foam.

4. Wrap pipes with foam insulation sleeves or heat cables. Don't know what a heat cable is? See the example below.

5. Open under-sink cabinet doors periodically. This will allow more heat to reach the plumbing.

6. Keep garage doors closed as much as possible.

7. Cover exterior faucets with insulated material.

8. During an extreme cold snap, keep a steady drip of luke-warm water flowing from indoor faucets that are connected to susceptible pipes.

9. Also during extremely frigid conditions, check the water pressure at each faucet before you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning. If there are changes in pressure, investigate where pipes may be frozen.

10. Locate the main shutoff valve for your home's water supply. In the event that your pipes do burst, you'll be able to immediately turn off the water and reduce further damage.

11. If you will be leaving your home vacant for an extended period of time (perhaps during holiday travel), shut off the water completely and drain pipes by running every faucet until the water stops flowing. Also, drain toilets by holding down the flush valve until there is no longer water in the bowl.

Heat Cable
For peace of mind that your pipes will stay above freezing all winter long, add heat cable such as the one from Frost King shown in the video below.


This was one of the most-viewed Handy articles in 2014. Click here to check out the six other articles that earned the "Best of 2014" title.