How to Prevent Freezing Pipes in the Winter

If it’s ever happened to you before, you know just how much damage a bursting pipe can cause to your home. Water damage is one out of every homeowner’s worst nightmares and it can happen in the blink of an eye when a pipe freezes in the winter. The best way to avoid freezing pipes altogether is to take preventative measures when you can before the colder weather arrives.


When water expands it freezes and whether you have plastic or metal pipes, the water will expand and as a result it will put a lot of pressure on the pipes. Usually it is the pipes that are the most exposed to severe weather conditions that end up freezing. Some examples include supply lines to slimming pools, sprinkler water lines, hose bibs that are located outside and water supply lines in attics, crawl spaces, garages or even inside kitchen cabinets. These are the pipes that should be investigated first should freezing occur.

Preventative Measures

When it starts to get brutally cold outside, there are a few things that you can do to help keep your pipes from freezing.

  1. If you have any water lines inside your garage, make sure that the garage doors are always kept shut once you’ve removed your car from the garage or have parked it in there for the night.
  2. There is a lot of contradictory information regarding leaving your tap dripping when it’s cold outside. Some professionals will tell you that keeping a slow drip flowing from your taps during the extreme cold will help prevent your pipes from freezing. On the other hand, just as many professionals state the opposite. They claimed that this can lead to faster freeze-ups and that no faucets should ever be left dripping. For this reason, we highly recommend that you talk to your plumber before deciding to let your tap drip to prevent pipe freezing. It’s a controversial topic so talk to a trusted plumber before taking any action.
  3. Make sure that you have disconnected your garden hose for the season and have put it into storage. When a garden hose freezes you may not only lose your favourite hose due to expansion but may also damage your plumbing system.
  4. Insulate any pipes you have that lie in an unheated area of your home such as in the garage or in the attic. You can opt for special pipe insulation made of foam or use a heat tape that is designed to wrap around water pipes. The insulation you choose will depend on how exposed the pipes are to extremely cold conditions.
  5. If you’re going to be traveling this winter your thermostat should be set no lower than 13°C or 55°F. You can also shut off the main supply of water and then drain the plumbing system for added prevention.

If Your Pipes Have Frozen…

The main indicator of frozen pipes is the inability to turn on the water inside at the faucet. If you come home from work one day and water only drips out of your tap, you should be immediately look for a pipe that has frozen. You should also inspect your other taps to make sure that they are okay.

Look at the pipes that are most likely to freeze first as described above. Then, heat must be applied to the pipe safely to start the melting. Many homeowners use a hair dryer or a heating pad to warm up the pipes and these methods generally work well. Never use a device with an open flame such as a blowtorch or a propane heater since this can cause extensive damage.

While you are heating up the pipe, keep your faucet inside turned on. As the water starts to melt, the open faucet will help keep the flow of water running over the ice inside the pipe, which will help things melt faster.

If you can’t easily locate the problem area, it’s time to call in a licensed plumber. Getting your pipes unfrozen quickly is critical since time is ticking away and you will need to handle this situation fast before any pipes burst.

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