How to Prevent Frozen Water Pipes

A couple of weeks ago there were freezing temperatures throughout much of the nation. In the South, where it rarely gets that cold, many people found themselves dealing with frozen pipes. If not handled correctly, frozen pipes can turn into an expensive problem. Make sure you know what to do to prevent your pipes from freezing, so you don’t find yourself dealing with an expensive plumber bill.

How to Prevent Frozen Water Pipes

If you know the weather is going to be cold overnight, there are a few things you can do to prevent your pipes from freezing.

  • Open the cabinets under the sink.
  • Let your faucets drip overnight.
  • Cover outside water faucets and unhook the hoses.
  • If you have a well, make sure your pump doesn’t freeze. We have a space heater in our pump house that we turn on when the weather gets cold.
  • Make sure the pipes under your house are insulated.
  • Know where your main water shutoff valve is, just in case.

What to Do if Your Pipes Freeze

If your pipes do freeze, try not to panic. Inspect the pipes to look for any cracks. If they are cracked, turn off your water at the main valves and call a plumber.

If you don’t see any cracks, try to thaw the pipes with a hairdryer. Angelsong, one of my readers, recently used a space heater to thaw her pipes. Just don’t use a torch with an open flame. It’s better to have frozen pipes than a burned down house. And when you’re using any kind of electricity, make sure there is no standing water. You don’t want to electrocute yourself either.

With a little foresight, most of the time freezing pipes can be prevented.

Do you have any other suggestions for preventing frozen pipes?

Photo by laffy4k.

7 thoughts on “How to Prevent Frozen Water Pipes”

  1. Freezing pipes are never fun…

    My family owns a cabin in the mountains and we are always so scared of really cold winters because of freezing pipes. It’s not practical for us to run the heater all the time, and we try out best to insulate the pipes, but sometimes it just gets way too cold… Recently, we found about this thing called FireEar. It’s a home monitor that protects your home from freezing pipes, possible fires, and power outages. It sends you a text message or calls you if something goes wrong. They also have an insurance discount that you can do that will actually save you money on your insurance bill. Check it out!

  2. We thought our pipes froze once in our old house and worked most of the day (a Sunday) to get them unfrozen. I swear the basement was 75 degrees and we still couldn’t get the water to work. We finally broke down and called a plumber, who kindly charged regular, not Sunday, rates. Why? Because he felt sorry for us because the pipe was actually frozen at the water meter, not in our house! Who knew? He took off the man hole cover (so we would have needed him anyway), blew the hair dryer down on the meter for about 10 minutes, and we had running water! We kept it running slowly all night and didn’t have a problem, even though we wasted some water.

  3. Great post! As a Canadian, I just wanted to warn you that letting the tap drip increases the chance of the pipe freezing-there’s just not enough water going through so the water can freeze! Let it run slowly, instead.

  4. The pipes in part of our house froze, right above the laundry room. This part of the house is not as well insulated as the rest, and harder to get to via the attic access due to an add on. I had some laundry in the dryer, ran it, and the pipes began to unfreeze. When I saw what was going on, ran the dryer on high and the heat rose and thawed the pipes in that part of the house!

  5. If you cannot afford to buy anything to cover your pipes with, a couple of pairs of old, thick socks work great. Put the socks over the exposed pipes, and cover them with a plastic bag, secured with a cable tie. This will prevent the socks from getting wet when it rains, and the cable tie can be cut to remove the bag and socks when it warms up.

    Old newspapers or an old tee shirt can also be used in a similar manner.

  6. One of the upsides to living in a place where we frequently expect it to get really cold for almost half the year is that houses are built with this eventuality in mind. 20 years of living in Canada and I’ve never once had to deal with frozen pipes, even though the temperature dips down to around -30 Celcius in the winter.


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