How to Avoid or Thaw Frozen Pipes During the Winter

It is that time of year again, and winter is in full swing. From Christmas presents to sledding in February, winter brings many pleasant memories and activities for many. However, not every aspect of these cold months is a positive one. One of the most important incidents to prepare for is the freezing of pipes. Whether you are working to prevent or need to thaw your home’s pipes, it is time to winterize them.

Frozen pipes more often happen when a house is left vacant for a long period of time. When you know that you will be away from home during the cold months, you will undergo the winterization process. Even when you will be home during the winter, there are sections of your pipes that will be more at risk. Any pipes that run against exterior walls that have very little insulation are at higher risk of freezing, as well as any sections of pipe that are exposed to severe cold (such as those outdoors).

Unheated parts of your home, such as the garage, basement or crawl space, are also at higher risk of freezing. Add insulation to the colder rooms in your homes, such as attics, basements, and crawl spaces. An investment in proper insulation will help to maintain a higher temperature in these forgotten rooms. Even pipes can be insulated, often called a pipe sleeve, heat tape, or heat cable. In some cases, the newspaper does the trick, but it does not have a significant protective effect as these other products do.

To avoid frozen pipes, there are several steps to take. The first step involves emptying your water heater – shut off the main valve, as well as the water pump. The heating elements will not be damaged if there is no water in the tank. Make sure that no excess water is left behind. Drain water from the pipes, including flushing any toilets and checking all sink and tub drains, and anything that has a drain trap. Each of the drains should be filled with an antifreeze solution.

Insulate pipes after they’ve been properly drained. There should be no gaps without insulation, these can let cold air in and affect the pipes negatively despite your preparation.
For pipes outside of your home, these should also be drained before winter comes into its full power. Drain the water from your swimming pool, as well as any water sprinkler supply lines, but do not put antifreeze solution in these pipes. It can be environmentally harmful and is particularly damaging to the plant and wildlife in your yard.

Remove and drain hoses that are used outdoors. For hose bibs, make sure that inside valves are closed. Open the hose bib and make sure that all water is properly drained from the hose – keep this pipe open to avoid expansion of any leftover water. Store the hose in a dry place, such as a garage or shed. If left in a particularly cold part of the home, however, remaining water left in a hose can still put in in danger of freezing and breaking.

It is important to remember that plastic pipes are much more tolerant in these freezing temperatures than copper pipes. Because some people do like to steal copper pipes from houses still using them, plastic pipes have several benefits and are worth the time and cost put into this renovation.

When winter is on its way, many people become excited about the holidays and fun in the snow. However, it is important to remember that you should prepare your home for these colder months as relatives begin to visit and your family spends more time indoors. Winterizing your pipes is crucial and can help you avoid a much larger project.