Man installs faucet cover to protect pipes from freezing weather

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes In and Around Your Home

By the Mercury Team

Temperatures are approaching freezing and you might have already weather-proofed your home in preparation for the first major freeze. However, the pipes in and around your home are one household item you should double-check. Frozen pipes are a wintertime nightmare for homeowners, and they can burst without warning, leading to sudden flooding and extensive damage.

Following a maintenance plan for winter can help protect your home and help prevent damage requiring an insurance claim. Here’s how to keep your pipes from freezing and what you should do if your pipes freeze.

How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing

At what temperature do pipes freeze? According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, pipes can start to freeze around 20 degrees or below. Follow these basic maintenance tips to help keep your pipes from freezing:

Insulate Any Unprotected Pipes

Poor insulation is one of the most common reasons why pipes freeze.  It’s important to use the proper insulation to help prevent frozen pipes. Check the pipes in your home’s crawl space and attic to see if they’re exposed. If so, wrap your pipes with heat tape or heat cables with a thermostat control. When purchasing pipe insulation, make sure an independent testing organization — e.g., Underwriters Laboratories Inc. — approved the products and that you choose the right type of insulation for your pipes — interior or exterior. Also, be sure to follow all manufacturer's directions.

Seal Cracks and Openings

Locate and seal cracks or openings in and around doors, windows, and dryer vents with weather stripping or caulk. This will help block the cold air from entering your house and help keep your pipes from freezing.

Secure Outdoor Hoses, Valves, and Faucets

In addition to indoor work, you should also perform maintenance tasks outdoors. Disconnect your garden hoses and completely drain the faucets. If the exterior faucets have cut-off valves, close them and drain the faucets. For additional insulation, consider using faucet covers throughout the winter months.

Let Water Drip from Faucets

Running a mix of warm and cold water through the pipes, even at a trickle, can help prevent them from freezing. Go to your kitchen, bath, and laundry areas and let your faucets drip overnight so there’s water moving through the pipe system.

Keep Thermostat at Same Temperature

Keeping your thermostat at the same temperature day and night can help keep your pipes from freezing and reduce strain on your furnace.

Open Cabinet Doors Under Sinks

Open your kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate the pipes, particularly if your sinks are on an exterior wall.

Leave Heat On and Shut Off Water When Out of Town

If you’re planning to go out of town during the winter, keep the heat on and set it to a temperature not lower than 55 degrees. Also, make sure to shut off and drain the water system. For extra peace of mind, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to periodically check on the house.

What to Do When Pipes Freeze

Here’s how to unfreeze your pipes when freezing temperatures might have caught you off guard:

Open the Faucet

First, open the faucet that’s connected to the pipe. This will relieve pressure within the pipe and allow any remaining water to flow through.

Apply Heat to Frozen Pipes

Once the pipe is clear, you can apply heat to the frozen pipe using a heat gun or hair dryer. It’ll be easier to start warming the pipe near the faucet than working towards the coldest section of the pipe.

Call a Plumber

If accessing the pipe is difficult or you cannot thaw the pipe, hire a licensed plumber for assistance.

The Bottom Line

If your home gets damaged due to frozen pipes, contact your claims representative to determine how your homeowners insurance policy can help. Mercury’s claims hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 503-3724 and your claims representative will help guide you throughout the entire claims process. Be sure to provide your claims representative with the photos and videos you took of the damage to your home.

If you don’t have Mercury, we offer reliable homeowners insurance at an affordable rate. Contact us today for a fast, free quote!

Mercury Team

The Mercury Marketing Team is made up of professionals in the fields of Content Creation, Public Relations and Social Media. The team works together to deliver professionally written and researched content to provide information for consumers.

Read More Articles by the Mercury Team