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How to prevent plumbing disasters caused by cold water.

Updated: Oct 6, 2023


pipe-with-frozen-water-and-blow-dryer-to-thaw-the-ice

As a professional plumber, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects that cold weather can have on plumbing systems. Frozen pipes, burst pipes, and water damage can all be costly and disruptive to repair. But the good news is that there are a number of simple steps you can take to prevent these problems from happening in the first place.


Here are a few tips to help you keep your plumbing safe during the cold weather months:



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Insulate your pipes. This is especially important for pipes that are located in unheated areas of your home, such as the attic, basement, or crawl space. You can use pipe insulation foam sleeves or wraps to keep your pipes from freezing.

Seal up air leaks. Cold air can get into your home through cracks and gaps around windows, doors, and electrical outlets. Seal up these leaks with caulk or weatherstripping to keep your home warm and prevent your pipes from freezing.

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Let your faucets drip slightly. If the temperature is expected to drop below freezing, let your faucets drip slightly to keep water moving through the pipes. This will help to prevent the water from freezing and expanding, which can cause pipes to burst.


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Open cabinet doors under sinks. This will help to keep the pipes underneath warm.

Set your thermostat to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're going to be away from home for an extended period of time, be sure to set your thermostat to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent your pipes from freezing.

If you do discover a frozen pipe, it's important to act quickly to prevent it from bursting. Here are a few tips:


Turn off the water supply to the pipe. You can usually do this by turning off the valve under the sink or behind the toilet.

Apply heat to the pipe. You can use a hair dryer, space heater, or warm compress to apply heat to the pipe. Be careful not to overheat the pipe, as this could cause it to burst.

Once the pipe is thawed, turn the water back on slowly. Be sure to check for leaks.

If you have any concerns about your plumbing system, or if you experience a plumbing problem, be sure to call a professional plumber.


In addition to the tips above, here are a few other things you can do to protect your plumbing from the cold:


  • Drain your outdoor faucets and hoses. This will prevent the water from freezing and damaging your faucets and hoses.

  • Cover your outdoor spigots. This will help to insulate them and prevent them from freezing.

  • If you have a sump pump, make sure it's working properly. A sump pump helps to remove water from your basement, which can prevent flooding.

  • Be aware of the signs of a frozen pipe. These signs include a lack of water flow, bulging pipes, and frost on the pipes.

  • By following these tips, you can help to prevent plumbing disasters caused by cold weather and protect your home from costly damage.

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