Exposed pipes in the basement are rarely in danger of freezing because they are in a heated portion of the home. But plumbing pipes in an unheated area, such as an attic, crawl space, and garage, are at risk of freezing. Taking preventive measures before winter sets in can reduce and eliminate the risk of frozen pipes and other cold-weather threats.
- Exposed pipes in unheated areas of the home.
- Pipes running near basement windows or doors.
- Pipes located in exterior walls.
- Any plumbing on the exterior of the home.
Often, inexpensive foam pipe insulation is enough for moderately cold climates. For severe climates, opt for wrapping problem pipes with thermostatically controlled heat tape.
If pipes traveling in exterior walls have frozen in the past (tell-tale signs include water damage, mold, and moisture build-up), it’s probably because of inadequate or improperly installed insulation.
For people leaving their homes for an extended period of time in winter, additional measures should be taken to adequately protect the home from frozen pipes.
- Make sure the furnace is set no lower than 55 degrees.
- Shut off the main water supply and drain the system by opening all faucets and flushing the toilets.
A frozen garden hose can cause more damage than a busted hose; it can actually burst a pipe on the inside of your home. When the water in the hose freezes, it expands, increasing pressure throughout your whole plumbing system. As part of your regular seasonal maintenance, garden hoses should be disconnected, drained, and stored before the first hard freeze.
If you can, install frost proof spigots, but if you don’t have frost-proof spigots, close the interior shut-off valve leading to that faucet, open and drain the spigot, and install a faucet insulator. Don’t forget, outdoor kitchens need winterizing, too, to prevent damage to their plumbing system.