Around the House: Preventing & Treating Freezing Pipes

by Applewood Plumbing, Heating & Electric


Winter’s just around the corner. Are your pipes safe? Frozen pipes can create a huge mess – and expense. But frozen pipes can be avoided with a little preventive maintenance. And, if a pipe does freeze, you may be able to keep it from bursting if you act quickly. Before the real deep freeze of winter sets in, here are tips for preventing frozen pipes and dealing with pipes that do freeze.

How to prevent frozen pipes:


  • Pipes that have frozen in the past are obvious candidates for special attention. So are outside hose connections, indoor pipes close to an outside wall, pipes in a cold part of your house and pipes exposed to the cold from below – a crawl space under your house, for example. Make sure all these pipes are protected from the cold.
  • Insulate vulnerable pipes. Keep in mind insulation helps, but alone won’t prevent pipes from freezing.
  • When insulation isn’t enough, consider pipe wrappings embedded with electrical coils that provide an outside source of heat. Remember to plug them in when a cold front hits or if there's a power outage, which can occur during severe weather.
  • Remove hoses from outside faucets. The faucets can’t drain properly with a hose attached.
  • During severe cold weather, open doors to kitchen and bathroom cabinets under your sinks so heat will help warm the pipes.
  • Running water doesn’t freeze very readily. During severe cold weather, keep a stream of water trickling out of faucets or spouts attached to vulnerable pipes.
  • If you have a sprinkler system, drain all outdoor pipes and turn off the water supply to the system. A contractor can perform this work for you and blow out the sprinkler-system pipes with air if you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself.

Winterizing your home or cabin if you’ll be away for an extended time:


  • Colorado is perfect for mountain get-away abodes, but that also poses some challenges to ensure your home or retreat is winterized properly. For those times when you’ll be away for an extended time try these tips that work in city or rural areas:
  • Turn off the water supply at the main shutoff valve. This is usually found on the side of the building nearest the street.
  • Remove garden hoses from outside faucets.
  • Drain the water heater. Turn off the pilot light and electric or gas supply to prevent overheating an empty heater.
  • Shut off the furnace or boiler.
  • Flush all toilets (to empty the tank) and every faucet (to drain water from pipes) in the home, including outdoor faucets.
  • Empty all toilet bowls by siphoning or bailing and sponging. Pour a mixture of antifreeze and water into all toilet bowls and traps of all sinks, showers and bathtubs. Don’t drain these traps. The water in them keeps sewer gases out of your house.
  • With a boiler, open all the radiator valves and remove the air-escape valve from radiators on the highest floor of the house. Then drain the boiler. To do a thorough job, use an air compressor to blow water from the system. After the system is empty, open the drain valve on the main supply line. A contractor can help with this if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.
  • If your water supply is from a well, switch off the pump and drain it, along with the above-ground pump lines and the tank.

What to do if a pipe freezes:


  • To prevent a frozen pipe from bursting, turn off the water supply to that line. If you use a boiler for heating, it must have a continual water supply to operate; so don't turn off the main household supply, just the valve leading to the frozen line. If you're unsure how to do this call a contractor.
  • Try defrosting frozen pipes with an electric hair dryer. For safety, be sure the dryer is grounded and never hold the pipe while operating an electrical appliance.
  • If a pipe does burst, there's not much you can do except mop up the mess and call a plumber to repair the pipe.

This article provided by Applewood Plumbing, Heating & Electric. Visit us at