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4 Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipes

As the mercury drops, prevent a disaster by keeping your pipes warm and water flowing.

By Stephanie Staton, Hobby Farms Editor


One way to protect your house's pipes from freezing is by removing garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Photo courtesy iStockphotot/Thinkstock (HobbyFarms.com)
Courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock
One way to protect your house's pipes from freezing is by removing garden hoses from outdoor faucets.

Quickly dropping mercury can mean bad news if your home is not insulated properly. A home's pipes will freeze at 20 degrees F, increasing the likelihood that they will burst and create a disaster in your house you more than likely don't have time to deal with. Preventing cold outdoor air from reaching your pipes is one of the most important steps to preventing a freeze. Here are some measures you can take to keep drafts out and water flowing freely:

1. Seal air leaks.
Fill cracks in your foundation and any other access points near your pipes, such as vents, windows and exhaust, with caulk.

2. Insulate pipes.
Wrap exposed pipes with insulation, pipe sleeves, heat tape or thermostatically controlled heat cables to stave off cold air. Only use products approved for this purposeand follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Maintain temperature.
Keep your thermostat above 55 degrees F—even if in bed or away on vacation. You can also open cabinet doors on exceptionally chilly days to encourage air circulation around pipes in the kitchen or bathroom—just make sure pets and children can’t access caustic or toxic cleaning agents.

4. Protect outdoor faucets.
Remove garden hoses to prevent water from backing up into the pipes and freezing. Drain sprinkler or irrigation supply lines per the manufacturer’s instructions—do not put antifreeze in the lines unless directed. Many garden and home-improvement stores offer insulated foam caps for covering outdoor faucets that serve as extra protection for your pipes. You can also close the valves that supply the outdoor bibs and leave the bib open to drain in the event of a freeze.

If you turn on the water and only a trickle comes out, you most likely have frozen pipes. Leave the faucet open and apply heat to the affected area until full pressure is restored. Check all faucets to make sure pipes are running properly.

For more information on winter home maintenance, read the American Red Cross’ “Fact Sheet: Preventing and Thawing Frozen Pipes."

 

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4 Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipes

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Reader Comments
To add one important item to the article:

"Freeze proof" or "Frostfree" spigots only work if the hose is disconnected. Leaving a hose connected will not allow the spigot to drain as it was designed to do.

dwaynehaskell.com
Dwayne, Shapleigh, ME
Posted: 1/9/2014 1:16:35 PM
My set up for the last 30 years is a hand pounded well in a insulated box with a light bulb for heat. A faucet comes out the front of the well box with a 14 inch bottomless crock filled with pea gravel buried under the faucet to drain water away.

A short hose, with quick connect to the faucet goes to a second faucet attached to a short piece of pvc that goes to highest point in the barn above the box and a 90 degree coupler. From there the rest of the pvc goes on a slope to the other side of the barn along beams and secured in place to hold that slope to a second 90 degree coupler and short pvc that runs to another faucet above the trough or where you need it. You can add as many connecter with faucets along this line as long as you maintain the slope and have a faucet at the end to open and drain. A short piece of hose goes to the trough.

The only trick to this system is you must disconnect the quick connect at the well and drain the whole system which will drain with pressure as long as the end at the trough isn't in the water. You must do this every time you use it [which is once a day for me] as long as the temps are below freezing at any time of the day. I live in MI with below zero temps and the only time this water system has frozen is if the light in the box goes out or the hose wasn't disconnected. I have a heat gun that makes short work of opening everything up if that happens as long as you catch it quickly. I make a habit of lifting the lid to the well box every day to make sure the light is working.
Carolyn Izzo, Holly, MI
Posted: 12/6/2012 7:26:12 AM
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