Water Pipe Burst

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in the Winter

Learn how to prevent water pipes from freezing before the onset of cold weather

Preventing & Thawing Frozen Pipes

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing in the Winter
Seasonal plumbing maintenance takes on greater significance when winter comes calling. Frigid weather can be tough on pipes, and the consequences of neglecting plumbing maintenance at this time of year can be exceptionally costly. Frozen pipes not only deprive your home of water supply until they thaw, a water line that ruptures due to freezing can discharge hundreds of gallons into your home in a very short time, inflicting catastrophic water damage.

Before any first-time homeowners begin to panic, there are several things you can do to prepare your home for the harsh winter conditions. Our experts at Gallegos Plumbing share their top tips on how to prevent pipes from freezing during the winter. Take a look:

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Frozen Pipes in Winter

Fix winter frozen pipes issues
Water has a peculiar property in that it expands as it freezes. As water expands upon cooling, it puts tremendous pressure on whatever contains it, no matter the strength of the container.

So, how exactly does frozen water break pipes?

When water turns into ice, it increases in volume by 9%. When freezing happens in a closed pipe, the ice displaces the water, drastically increasing its pressure, and if this happens for long, the pipe will burst.

The pipes that freeze most frequently are:

  • Pipes exposed to severe cold, including water sprinkler lines, outdoor hose bibs, and swimming pool supply lines
  • Water supply pipes in cold interior areas like attics, garages, basements, kitchen cabinets, and crawl spaces
  • Pipes installed against exterior walls with little or no insulation

Do Frozen Pipes Always Burst?

Many people believe that pipes burst when they are in the process of freezing. However, that is not the case. Instead, it has to do with pressure.

Usually, pipes do not always burst while freezing or once they’re frozen. It’s the process of thawing that presents the most significant challenge. Once a frozen pipe begins to thaw, the pressure resulting from the water that begins to rush through the line is what causes a pipe to burst.

How Much Water Should Drip to Keep Pipes from Freezing?

Do dripping faucets help prevent pipes from freezing?

Yes! When the weather is frigid, you should let water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space)

But won’t this result in a high water bill?

Not really, since the drip can be very slight. Just a gallon per hour is enough to prevent freezing. Even so, a dripping faucet may be what saves you a much bigger bill for repairing your pipes.

What Temperature Will Prevent Pipes from Freezing?

How cold can the temperature get before pipes start freezing?

Water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, that doesn’t mean that your pipes are in danger of freezing every time the temperature falls below 32 degrees. It all depends on the location and insulation of your water lines.

Builders design houses in the north for the cold by insulating their pipes and installing them in the interior of their houses which minimizes their risk of freezing and bursting. In contrast, many homes in the south haven’t been constructed this way and may not have sufficient insulation to protect their pipes.

While we rarely experience temperatures in the 20s and 30s for prolonged periods, keep in mind that water expands as it freezes. Therefore, your pipes do not have to be frozen solid for them to become damaged.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

To prevent pipes from freezing because of cold weather, follow the recommendations below:

  • Winterize your plumbing system – Ensure that your outside lines are turned off and completely drained before the onset of winter.
  • Insulate your pipes – You can use equipment such as pipe sleeves to prevent your exterior pipes from freezing.
  • Leave the heat on – Are you going on vacation during the winter? Don’t turn off your heater completely. Set the thermostat to 55 degrees or higher to keep your pipes from getting too cold.
  • Leave a dripping faucet – Are you worried about exposed water lines in frigid weather? Just leave faucets connected to those lines running at a trickle.

prevent pipes from freezing

How to Keep Outdoor Water Pipes from Freezing

Preventing exterior pipes from freezing isn’t particularly hard to do, but it is essential. To keep exterior lines from freezing, follow the following steps:

  • Remove any hoses from the spigot, drain them, and wipe down the hose. Proceed to coil them and store them in a clean, dry, indoor space, such as a shed or your garage.
  • Locate the shutoff valve on the line that feeds the outdoor faucet and close it. If you can’t locate this valve a few feet from your spigot, check along the supply line inside your basement or the crawlspace behind where the faucet sits.
  • If your faucet has a drainage line near the water shutoff, drain any remaining water.
  • If there is no drainage port, open the outside valve again to drain the line.
  • Protect the bib with an insulative foam cover.

Steps to Keep Outdoor Water Pipes from Freezing

A frozen outdoor pipe may burst, leading to expensive and time-consuming repairs. But how do you prevent pipes from freezing if they are fixed water supply lines?

Here is how to use foam pipe sleeves to keep outdoor water pipes from freezing DIY:

  • Position the sleeve along the pipe
  • Open the sleeve slit and cover the pipe
  • Seal the seam with the provided adhesive or duct tape
  • Cut the sleeve to fit the length of the pipe

The Best Pipe Insulation to Prevent Freezing

Heating tape is an excellent solution for short sections of pipe that are at high risk for freezing as it supplies heat directly to the water line to keep it warm during cold spells.

You can also fit pipes with extra insulation such as foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves to help decrease the chances of freezing.

Count on Gallegos Plumbing for All Your Pipe Repair Needs

You want to be ready when frigid and snowy weather arrives. Following these tips should safeguard your home against potential winter plumbing problems such as frozen pipes. If you need help preparing your Ventura County plumbing for winter, you can always rely on Gallegos Plumbing.

Gallegos Plumbing has been servicing the Ventura County community since 1996. We specialize in offering quality residential and commercial plumbing services at an affordable cost. We are proudly family-owned and operated with a 5 star rating on Yelp and Google.

For more information, contact Gallegos Plumbing at (805) 750-1830 or request a service online.