How to Keep Your Water Pipes from Freezing!

It’s that time of year again – yes, it’s Christmas, but it’s also time to be alert to frozen pipes! Whether it’s like a power outage we experienced a couple of weeks ago, or you are gone a day, with as cold as it is in Iowa now, it doesn’t take long for water pipes to freeze.

Here are a few tips to save you money and headaches!

  • If you plan to be away for an extended period of time, arrange for someone to check your house or apartment. Educate your family, other people in your household, and house-sitters on what to do if water pipes do freeze. Show them where your water shut-off valve is located. Most home meters are located in the basement. The shut-off valve can be found between the wall and the meter.
  • If you’re going to be gone – even for a weekend get-a-way – turn your water off at the meter.
    • Also, shut off water supply valves to your washing machine. I heard burst washing machine hoses can cause A LOT of damage.
  • NEVER set your home’s thermostat below 55 degrees. This applies to single-family homes as well as apartments.
  • Open cabinet doors below sinks to allow heat from the home to circulate.
  • Do not shut off heat to areas of your home that contain any plumbing or water fixtures. Keep doors to bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry facilities open. Open doors to cabinets that contain pipes, especially those located on the north side of the house, to expose the plumbing to warmer air inside the house.
  • Repair any cracks or holes around doors or windows to keep cold winter winds from blowing in and freezing water pipes and meters.
  • If your home has unheated areas, wrap pipes with heat tape (follow manufacturer’s instructions) or cover them thoroughly with pipe insulation.
  • If your plumbing does freeze, try to thaw it naturally by turning up the thermostat in your home and opening doors and cupboards to circulate warm air. You should not apply direct heat to your pipes, but if necessary, a hair dryer or another source of indirect heat could be used to help thaw frozen pipes.

Even if you don’t leave, one thing you should do every fall is disconnect and remove ALL garden hoses and install covers on all outside faucets. Water standing in the hose will freeze up into your home, busting your pipes. Many newer outside faucets now are a frost-proof sill cock which prevents the faucets from freezing, but you still will want to remove the hose and store it where it won’t freeze.