How to Prevent Frozen Pipes & Damage in Your Home

By:    |   Published November 22, 2023
Pipes in a basement which are vulnerable to cold. Homeowners should take steps to prevent frozen pipe issues.

Frozen pipes are one of those household issues that many of us underestimate until it’s too late. As winter approaches, water in your home’s piping system is at risk of freezing, causing significant inconvenience and, potentially, catastrophic damage. This article will guide you on how to prevent frozen pipes and save your home from the aftermath.

When pipes freeze and ultimately burst, you’re not just dealing with a plumbing problem—you’re looking at extensive water damage, potential structural issues, and a sizable bill for repairs. Depending on the severity and the duration of the freeze, you could be facing thousands of dollars in damage and repairs.

How Do Pipes Freeze?

Water expands when it freezes, and when it happens in a confined space like a pipe, the pressure increases against the pipe walls. As the temperature continues to drop, the pressure becomes too much for the pipe to bear, leading to cracks or even a complete burst.

The Parts of the Home Most at Risk

Pipes located in unheated areas such as garages, attics, and especially basements are the most vulnerable.

Basements are particularly at risk because they are often both out of sight and out of mind, and usually colder due to being underground or less insulated.

The Frozen Pipe Domino Effect

A frozen pipe doesn’t just mean no water flow. First, ice forms and blocks the pipe, then the pressure builds up behind the blockage. Finally, the pipe cracks or bursts, releasing a flood of water, often when you least expect it.

The immediate aftermath can include flooding and damage to walls, floors, and furniture. Long-term, you may be dealing with issues like mold growth, structural damage to your home, and even a decrease in property value.

The Basement – A Flood’s Favourite Playground

Because basements are often neglected and less insulated, they can suffer the worst damage from burst pipes. Pooling water in a basement can seep into the foundation, causing structural issues that are both difficult and expensive to resolve.

Water damage can encourage the growth of mold, which can be hazardous to your health. Additionally, consistent moisture can weaken your home’s foundation and lower your property’s value, making it crucial to know how to prevent frozen pipes from causing such havoc.

Preventive Measures

Pipe Insulation – A Barrier Against the Cold

One of the primary steps in knowing how to prevent frozen pipes lies in the realm of insulation. Insulating your pipes is akin to wrapping yourself in a warm blanket during a chilly winter night.

Pipe insulation materials, often made of foam or specialized wraps, act as a protective barrier against the cold, effectively trapping heat and maintaining a warmer internal temperature within the pipes. This can be particularly beneficial for pipes located in unheated or less-insulated areas like the garage, attic, or basement.

Not only does insulation improve the energy efficiency of your home’s heating system, but it can also extend the lifespan of your pipes by reducing the risk of freeze and burst events.

Keeping a Steady Temperature – Consistency is Key

Another crucial factor in preventing pipes from freezing is the maintenance of a steady temperature inside your home. The importance of this can’t be overstated, especially during the frigid winter months when the external temperatures are harsh and unpredictable.

To prevent frozen pipes, ensure that your home’s internal temperature never drops below 55°F, even when you’re not at home. You should aim to keep this temperature consistent both during the day and night, and don’t forget about rooms that aren’t frequently used.

In these less-visited spaces, like guest rooms or utility rooms, a small, energy-efficient space heater can make a world of difference in maintaining a constant, pipe-friendly environment.

Sealing Gaps and Cracks – Blocking Out the Cold

Cold air is opportunistic; it will find any opening to infiltrate your home, creating cold zones that put your pipes at risk. Gaps and cracks in your home’s structure, particularly around windows, doors, and in the walls of your attic and basement, can be the entry points for cold air.

If you want to know how to prevent frozen pipes effectively, look into sealing these openings using caulk or weatherstripping. This minor home improvement job can significantly elevate your home’s thermal efficiency, making it more difficult for cold air to enter and chill your pipes.

Letting Faucets Drip – A Little Flow Can Go a Long Way

At first glance, allowing your faucets to drip may seem counterintuitive, especially if you’re mindful of water conservation. However, a dripping faucet can act as a safety valve for your pipe system, relieving pressure that might build up between the faucet and an ice blockage. This slight water movement can make it harder for pipes to freeze. It’s a simple yet highly effective measure that you can take when freezing temperatures are expected.

However, keep in mind that this is often a temporary fix and should be used in conjunction with other long-term solutions for maximum effectiveness.

Professional Inspection – An Ounce of Prevention

Sometimes the wisest course of action is to seek professional help. An experienced basement waterproofing specialist can review your home’s risks to identify vulnerable areas that you may overlook. These experts can provide targeted recommendations on how to prevent all types of basement water issues including frozen pipes, whether that involves pipe replacement, added insulation, or installing advanced freeze protection devices.

Spending a little time on a professional waterproofing consultation can save you from the emotional and financial turmoil of a burst pipe, acting as an ounce of prevention before winter sets in.

Dealing with a Burst Pipe

If a pipe does burst, the first step is to shut off the main water supply immediately and then call a professional for repair and assessment of the damage.

After the immediate crisis is dealt with, you’ll need to address any water damage. Professional restoration services can help bring your home back to its original state.

Contact your insurance company to understand your coverage for water damage and make a claim as needed to help with the financial aspect of recovery.

Schedule Your FREE 20-Point Inspection

The best way to keep your basement dry is with professional waterproofing. EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you find out if your home is at risk for water damage and which solutions will best serve you.

Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!

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