Winter weather can be relentless. Arctic blasts, outrageous snowfalls and something called a “bomb cyclone” send many people indoors, craving the coziness and warmth of home. It’s easy to romanticize a beautiful snowfall or relish the briskness of crisp, cold air from the comfort of a warm living room, but it’s important to remember that sharp temperature drops aren’t just dangerous for humans—this kind of chill can wreak havoc on a home’s pipes.
Extreme cold is no friend to interior and exterior pipes. Whether your pipes are outdoors or in an unheated area of the house, the possibility for damage increases as the temperature drops. Water expands as it freezes, creating the perfect opportunity for a metal or plastic pipe to crack.
The prospect of frozen pipes is scary, but don’t fret—the potential for damage to your pipes can be mitigated with a bit of preparation. Here are some easy steps you can take to keep pipes from freezing in the harsh winter temperatures:
- As a preventive measure in arctic temperatures, keep a trickle of water running through the pipes 24/7. It may seem counterintuitive, but this will actually help prevent the pipes from freezing.
- Don’t let the temperature in your home dip below 55 degrees. To that end, keep a consistent temperature in your house at all times—don’t lower the temperature in the evening or when no one is home.
- Make sure that pipes in enclosed spaces, especially those against exterior walls, are exposed by keeping cabinet doors open.
Turning on a faucet in extreme cold and receiving only a trickle of water in return is a good indicator that a pipe has frozen. Open up your faucets so water can flow out as the pipe thaws. As with anything that freezes, heat is critical to thawing your pipes. Warming up pipes indoors can be as simple as heating them up with a hair dryer or wrapping the pipe in a heating pad. Consult a plumber before defrosting outdoor pipes or taking more drastic thawing measures indoors.