What tips do you recommend for avoiding frozen pipes?
Winter brings with it beautiful snow-covered houses, holiday parties, and dreams of hot chocolate and candy canes. It also brings wicked snowstorms, sub-zero temperatures, and frozen pipes. But don’t worry! According to home comfort experts, frozen pipes don’t have to be a winter reality for you. Continue reading to find out how just a few precautionary measures can keep your pipes warm and toasty while you enjoy the beauties of the season.
Let the Water Drip Through the Faucet
Frozen pipes can cause thousands of dollars in damages, but there are some simple ways to avoid the trouble! During a particularly cold snap, one of the best things you can do is to just let the water drip through the faucet – Running water, even if it’s just a trickle, will help prevent the pipes from freezing.
However, if you want to prevent frozen pipes long-term, we’d recommend adding insulation to your attic, basement, and crawl spaces as this will maintain a higher temperature in the home, allowing the pipes to remain un-frozen.
Insulate and Keep the Thermostat On
There are several effective ways to prevent the pipes from freezing, depending on their purpose, configuration, and other aspects.
1. Insulate pipes
This is currently the most universal and affordable way to prevent the pipes from freezing. You have to purchase special pipe insulation and wrap all the pipes that can be potentially exposed to 30°F or lower temperatures. This relates to the pipes in your garage (if it’s unheated), attic, basement, and, of course, any outdoor pipes.
2. Open bathroom and kitchen cabinets when it’s too cold
This way you will let the warm air circulate around the pipes and warm them up. You can leave the cabinets open overnight.
3. Keep a consistent thermostat temperature
Many homeowners think that they can save up by reducing or turning off the thermostats during sunny winter days. This idea works well only until one of the pipes bursts and makes you spend much more money than you saved. Find a thermostat preset that feels most comfortable and keep it on without dropping the temperature lower and turning the thermostat off.
4. Add heating tape to the pipes
Heating tape is an excellent option to maintain a consistent temperature in those easily accessible pipes. You can install a manual system to turn it on when you expect the pipes to get too cold, or an automated system that will add warmth to the pipes when it detects a temperature drop.
Gerald is a professional plumber in the 3rd generation, who proudly continues his dad’s and grandfather’s business. He shares his plumbing knowledge and product reviews on the Sanitary Review blog.
5 Handy Tips to Beat the Freeze
1. Replace your outdoor hose bib with a frost-free hose bib. Every fall, properly shut off the water and drain the waterline. Also, remember to disconnect your hose.
2. Insulate your pipes. You can buy pipe insulation at many hardware stores or online.
3. Leave your taps running a dribble when it’s really cold, or if you leave for the night. Moving water is less likely to freeze.
4. Be mindful of susceptible pipes in your home. For example, if you have exposed pipes in your crawl space, you may want to consider using a space heater to heat the area during freezing temperatures.
5. You can run purchase and install waterline heating cables. They’re easy to install and can be purchased online and in many hardware stores.
Hydronic Fan Coils and Other Sure-Fire Methods
1. Turn off and drain outside faucets so the water inside doesn’t freeze in cold temperatures.
2. Wrap insulation around all exposed pipes to keep them insulated and warm while not in use.
3. When temperatures plummet, it’s also beneficial to open cabinets so that warm air can circulate to the exposed pipes.
4. Try to always keep household temperatures up day and night.
5. Consider a smart thermostat that also helps prevent your pipes from getting too cold.
6. Consider turning on your faucets so that a trickle of warm water runs.
Additionally, hydronic fan coils are an efficient and comfortable heating method in HVAC systems. It is recommended that hydronic fan coils in colder climates have the supply lines filled with glycol (a form of antifreeze) instead of water to stop them from freezing.
Anees Jarral is the co-founder and CTO of Cielo WiGle Inc., a smart home company focusing on smart cooling and heating controls.
Install a Heat Pump and Use the Freeze Protection Mode
Frozen pipes can create many difficulties for homeowners in the winter months. Not only do they result in frozen water, but also burst pipes. This can need expensive repairs, which can be avoided by following some precautionary measures.
Pipe insulation, keeping faucets open at night, and opening kitchen cabinet doors are some essential and known ways to avoid frozen pipes. One other interesting method is to keep your heating on but at the lowest possible state to use minimal energy and also protect your pipes. This can be achieved by using the Freeze Protection mode (FP) in mini-split heat pumps (depending on the air conditioner, this may also be referred to as Low Heat or Min. Heat mode). This is a specially designed mode to consume the least amount of power while running your heating and protecting your home!
For instance, if you have water lines in the garage, you can install a heat pump and switch on the FP mode. A temperature of around 46F will be maintained to prevent your area from reaching the freezing point. Freeze Protection practically works like heat mode. The only difference is that it blows a steady stream of air consuming minimum power.
1. Insulate your pipes. Cover them up with insulating material such as cotton, or get dedicated pipe insulation. They can help to protect your pipes from cold temperatures.
2. If you have water lines in the garage, keep its door closed. Direct air from outside is sure to freeze your pipes instantly.
3. Keep your faucets slightly open at night. By having some water constantly drip from the faucet, the water in the pipes keeps on moving. As we all know, flowing water has a harder time freezing. Be sure not to open the faucet excessively, though.
4. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors, and let the heat from these areas get in contact with the pipes. The heat has a hard time reaching the pipes with the doors closed, and they can freeze.
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