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Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Blog

DIY Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes

On a cold winter’s night, nothing feels better than curling up tight in your bed. Just let the wind howl and let the snow fall, right? Wrapped in blankets, you’re warm and you’re safe. Except maybe you aren’t so safe. Because cold, windy nights put your home at risk for frozen pipes and eventually the disaster of burst pipes—carrying a several thousand dollar price tag!

Every year we meet with dozens of homeowners whose frozen pipes have burst and caused catastrophic home damage. Distraught, they always ask us: what could we have done differently?

That’s why we put together this at-home list of DIY tips to prevent frozen pipes. Follow these do-it-yourself tips to prevent frozen pipes for peace-of-mind. On the next cold night, you can curl up and feel safe, because you’ve got this.

Frozen Pipes and Burst Pipes

When the temperature drops to below freezing, water freezes. The standing water in your water pipes can also turn to ice.

What happens to frozen pipes?

Step 1: Pipe freezes

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Step 2: The ice exerts pressure until the pipe bursts.

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Step 3: When the pipe thaws, hundreds of gallons of water can pour from the broken line.

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When hundreds of gallons of water pour from your pipes, it can destroy parts of your home and create the possibility for mold growth.

Tips To Prevent Frozen Pipes

Your goal as a homeowner is to keep your home safe and functioning properly. No one wants to spend several thousand dollars on water damage and plumbing repair. Here are some tips to prevent frozen pipes in your home.

Tip #1: Insulate Any Water Pipes You Can — Any Way You Can

Keep your pipes warm through insulation—any way you can. You can use formal pipe insulation or just newspaper.

insulate to prevent frozen pipes
Official hardware store pipe insulation.

 

Prevent frozen pipes with newspaper insulation.
In a pinch pipe insulation using newspaper.

Tip #2: Use Heat Tape Around Your Pipes

Heat tape is an electrical mechanism that wraps around your pipes to provide heat when it’s needed the most. Every time the temperature around the pipes drops, the tape will provide extra heat to prevent them from freezing and bursting.

Contact us or our sister company Mister Sparky to install this powerful frozen pipe countermeasure.

Tip #3: Program Your Thermostat

Programmable thermostats, which allow you to pre-set temperatures are a great way to reduce your winter energy bills. During a cold, frosty night, the last thing you want to do is let the inside temperature drop.

Setting your thermostat can help prevent frozen pipes

Make sure you keep your thermostat set to a reasonable number when the temperatures outside drop. Learn about getting 100% thermostat control with a WiFi thermostat from One Hour Air.

Tip #4: Leave Cabinet Doors Open

Your cabinets are one of the best ways to access the majority of your water pipes without tearing apart the walls. Strange as it might sound, closing your cabinet doors cuts your pipes off from room temperature air. Essentially, it’s like sealing them in a refrigerator.

We did an unscientific study to test check the difference in temperature between cabinet doors open and closed. Check out the temperature difference with the doors closed vs open:

  • Open: 61 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Closed: 52 degrees Fahrenheit

Those 9 degrees could make a significant impact on extremely cold days.

Tip #5: Schedule a Furnace or Boiler Tuneup

Keeping your home temperature consistent is the main theme of preventing frozen pipes. Do you know what dramatically drops your home temperature? When your furnace or boiler dies in the middle of winter.

Keeping your heat on prevents frozen pipes

If it’s been a while since you last had your furnace or boiler serviced by a professional, it’s time for a heating system tuneup. We know a great HVAC expert.

Tip #6 Let the Faucets Trickle

Ever hear the old adage, “a rolling stone gathers no moss”? This is the same principle. Keeping the water in your pipes moving helps prevents the freezing process.

Drip your faucet to prevent frozen pipes

What To Do If My Pipes Freeze?

Let’s say the worst happens: your water simply won’t flow and you know your pipes are frozen. If that’s the case, you don’t have a moment to waste. Every minute your water pipes stay frozen, pressure in the pipe builds, bringing them closer to bursting, spilling hundreds of gallons of water all throughout your house. Contact us immediately, call your insurance company, and then start moving the valuables outside the house.

Although we hope these frozen pipe prevention tips allow you to keep safe this winter, our expert plumbers are always on call. Whether you need help to thaw a frozen pipe before it bursts or you need help limiting the damage of burst pipes, we can help.

Contact us for heat tape installation, frozen pipes and for all of your plumbing needs.

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