How to Prevent Freezing Pipes
Ideally you would check the conditions of the building’s plumbing, identify the pipes most vulnerable to freezing when Fall begins. Look for pipes located outside walls and windows, uninsulated pipes, and pipes installed near unheated spaces as these are the areas that tend to freeze when it gets cold.
It is also important to check for any cracks or openings in walls, floors, and ceilings. If you find holes during your inspection, seal them to keep cold air from entering those gaps.
Be sure to follow these tips:
You can insulate pipes with insulation sleeves, wrapping or using slip-on foam pipe insulation. Do not leave any gaps without insulation as cold air can affect the pipe in these spaces. Plastic piping is more tolerant of freezing than old copper or steel water pipes.
Inspect the exterior of the property, making sure that all visible cracks are sealed. Cold air can enter through the cracks and, once inside, it will cause your pipe to freeze. If visible cracks are noticed, seal them using caulking or spray foam to fill the voids.
Maintain a heating source inside the building to protect pipes against cold.
It is a good idea to maintain a faucet dripping, allowing the water to move freely and continuously, preventing it from freezing.
Make sure the crawl space is properly insulated. Block all vents that lead to the outside using cardboard or wood.
Don’t forget the hose bibs. Hose bibs are normally left unattended, causing them to burst in the middle of the night. Drain hose bibs and insulate with covers. Once this has been completed, deactivate bibs at the shutoff valve.
Use heat tape to protect pipes from freezing. Heat tape is one of the preferred methods for winterizing plumbing, but be aware that these might bring additional hazards. The U.S. CPSC has provided safety recommendations for homeowners using heat tapes to help prevent fires.
If your home is vacant, you can professionally winterize your home. The company will make sure that no water is in your lines and should leave notes and tape toilets, so that the plumbing is not used while fully winterized.