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Preventing Frozen Pipes - Residential - Central - Liberty


Why do pipes freeze?

Water expands as it freezes, which can put pressure on metal or plastic pipes and can cause them to break. Pipes can freeze within 3 to 5 hours of drawn-out subfreezing temperatures.


Pipes that are most likely to freeze are:

  • Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hoses, swimming pool supply lines, sprinkler lines, and outdoor faucets
  • Pipes in unheated areas such as basements, attics, garages, cabinets, or crawl spaces
  • Pipes that run near or within exterior walls that have little or no insulation


Before cold weather is here, protect your pipes from freezing by following these tips:

  • Know the location of and how to shut off your main water valve in case freezing does occur.
  • Disconnect all garden hoses and drain any of the water that remains in outdoor faucets.
  • Consider adding insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in those areas.
  • Check around your home for unheated areas where pipes or water lines are located. Look in the garage and cabinets. Both hot- and cold-water pipes in these areas should be insulated. Heat tape can be used on pipes in these areas for a quick and affordable form of insulation.
  • Drain water from swimming pool and sprinkler lines by following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not use antifreeze unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing. You can contact a local plumber for more information about this.


How to insulate pipes:

Materials: Scissors, marker, tape measurer, formed pipe insulation, silver tape

  • Measure the diameter of the water pipes. If you are only wrapping the hot water pipes, locate them and measure from there. Be careful as the pipes may be hot.
  • At the hardware store, match the size of the pipe with the size of the inside hole of the insulation.
  • When you get home, turn off the water to the pipe you are insulating. You may be able to do this at the water heater or at the backflow located outside. Measure the length of the pipe. Cut the insulation to the correct size and wrap around the pipe. Leave at least 3 feet of unwrapped pipe around the hot water heater to avoid fire hazards.
  • Secure with the silver tape if needed and turn the water back on.


Tips to prevent frozen pipes during cold weather:

  • Keep your home temperature set no lower than 55°F.
  • When it is below freezing outside for an extended period, let cold water drip from your faucets served by exposed or potentially poorly insulated pipes. Running water through the pipe, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Protect your pipes by wrapping them in insulation or heat tape.
  • If pipes run through cabinets, open the doors to let warmer room temperatures flow in. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals out of the reach of children or pets.
  • Identify your home’s freezing points. Eliminate sources of cold air near water lines. Fix drafty windows and plug drafts around doors.
  • Keep garage doors closed if water pipes are located there.


Here are some tips to follow if you do have frozen pipes:

  • If you turn on a faucet and no water or only a trickle comes out, you likely have a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • If you have a frozen pipe, keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  • Thaw pipes with warm air such as a hair dryer or space heater. Do not leave a space heater unattended and do not use kerosene heaters or open flames.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
  • Be careful turning water back on. Once pipes are thawed, slowly turn the water back on and check pipes and joints for any cracks.


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Preventing Frozen Pipes