Prevent Frozen Pipes

Pipes at Risk

Pipes that are exposed to severe cold can burst.

  • Outdoor hose bibs
  • Swimming pool supply lines
  • Water sprinkler lines
  • Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas: basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages
  • Pipes inside kitchen or bathroom cabinets that run against exterior walls with little or no insulation

Any pipes leading outside should be drained and closed for the winter. Insulate hot and cold water pipes in under- or unheated spaces. 

How pipes freeze

Water expands when it freezes. As it does, it puts pressure on whatever contains it, including the metal or plastic (PVC) pipes in your home. The pressure can rupture the pipes and cause serious damage to your home, especially if the water leaks for a few hours.

What you can do

Insulate your pipes

  • Insulate both hot AND cold water pipes in unheated or uninsulated (or poorly insulated) areas. Both hot and cold water pipes can freeze in cold weather.

When severe cold weather hits

  • Push up the thermostat a few degrees above the normal nighttime setting so that the temperature inside exterior walls remains above freezing.
  • If your sink, dishwasher or washing machine is located on an exterior wall, leave the cabinet doors and dishwasher open, especially at night, so the pipes are exposed to warmer air. Of course, make sure you keep toxic cleaners or chemicals in a safe place away from young children.
  • Let the cold water drip slowly from faucets to reduce the pressure build-up in the pipes.
  • Keep garage doors closed if you have water supply pipes inside.
  • Watch your local weather forecasts and keep track of severe cold and wind chill.

Read more on how to Prevent Damage from Freezing Temperatures from the Insurance Institute of Business & Home Safety and Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes from the Red Cross.

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