Taking Precautions to Avoid Frozen Pipes in Your Home this Winter

January 19, 2016

Thewinter season puts your home's plumbing system at risk of damage from the freezing weather conditions. Low temperatures can bring about frozen pipes, which can cause several other problems. So how do pipes freeze? Is there anything you can do to protect your pipes this winter? Read on to find out.

How Frozen Pipes Occur 
When pipes are subjected to cold temperatures, the water within becomes cold. The water will start freezing if the temperatures outside fall to very low levels, and it remains stagnant and exposed to the temperatures for an extended period. Water expands as it freezes. The expansion exerts a lot of pressure on the pipes. It can crack or even burst them. Once the pipes thaw, water will flow from them. This uncontrolled flow can severely damage the structure of your house, electrical fixtures and other contents of your home.

The following tips will help you protect your pipes from freezing:

  • Disconnect all hoses from outdoor faucets. Drain and store them inside during the winter.
  • Wrap all pipes near exterior walls and in cold areas (such as the attic, crawl space and garage) with pipe insulation or heat tape.
  • Install an electrical heating cable inside your pipes. The cable is a long, insulated wire that's thermostat controlled and has an ordinary electric plug on one end.
  • Air seal your home to make it more energy efficient.
  • Insulate exterior walls and unheated parts of your home.
  • When a heavy freeze is expected, leave at least one faucet that's connected to a vulnerable pipe open slightly to allow water to drip continuously from it. This keeps water inside your pipes moving, reducing the chances of freezing happening.
  • If you're going to be away from your home and want to save energy by turning your thermostat down, don't set it to a temperature lower than 55 degrees.
It's not easy to thaw frozen water pipes. Therefore, it's best to take these precautions to prevent freezing. For more information on how to avoid frozen pipes, contact us at Lozier Heating & Cooling. We serve the greater Des Moines area. Our goal is to help educate our customers in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  Credit/Copyright Attribution: "Paul Tessier/Shutterstock"