Ice-cold tap water may taste refreshing, but it also can be a chilling sign that you need to learn how to insulate exposed water pipes throughout your home.
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Burst pipes from freezing are difficult and expensive to fix, so take precautions in advance. It sneaks up fast and it seems our winterization precautions are never in time.
New homes with pipes placed near an exterior wall can be as prone to having frozen pipes as poorly insulated older homes.
Often the best solution is placing insulation in the wall or ceiling that contains the pipes. This helps keep your home warm and protects your pipes.
How to Insulate Exposed Water Pipes: 4 Ideas
Here are some additional ways to prevent plumbing freezes inside your home.
You’ll need about 2-3 hours to prepare the average-size home. Skills needed are the most basic level of carpentry and plumbing. Tools needed include a knife and flashlight. Pretty simple, right?
1. Insulate the Pipes by Jacketing
Insulation goes a long way toward preventing freeze-ups. But only if every square inch of pipe, including connections, is protected.
Pipe jacketing comes in standard lengths that can be cut with a knife and secured with electric tape. Ordinary insulation, cut in strips and bundled around pipes, works equally well. It costs less but takes more effort.
In an extremely cold wall or floor, pack the entire cavity with insulation. Consider insulating long runs of hot-water pipes, especially in unheated spaces. The extra insulation will conserve water-heating energy and save you a bit of money too.
2. Wrap Pipes with Electric Heat Tape
Electric heat tape draws only modest amounts of current, so it is safe and inexpensive to use.
Wrap the heat tape around the pipe, and then plug it into an electrical outlet. A thermostat turns the tape on and off as needed.
Keep in mind, electric heat tape will not work during a power outage. And that could happen when you most need your pipes to be winterized.
3. Protect Outside Faucets
Before your first winter freeze, remove and drain all your garden hoses to prevent them from splitting.
Shut off the water that supplies your outdoor faucets. Allow them to drain, and leave them open.
If there is no indoor shutoff, install one. Better yet, install a freeze-proof faucet. This improvement may even be required by your local codes.
4. Extra Precautions for Really Cold Days
There are some extra measures you can take on extremely cold days.
Turn on any faucets that might be especially vulnerable to freezing. This could be a faucet that has old or corroded pipes.
Let water trickle slightly and continuously during freezing temperatures. It’s not foolproof, but it might be enough to prevent old or damaged pipes from freezing.
If there is a cabinet underneath the faucet, open its doors so that heat from the room can warm the pipes. Or use a small lamp to warm the pipes that run through cold areas of your home.
Here are some great resources for protecting your home this winter by winterizing your plumbing.
- How to Winterize a House for Complete Protection
- How to Winterize Outdoor Faucets with Frost-Free Faucets
- Prevent Freezing Pipes from Causing Water Damage
It’s the chore we rarely think of, but it’s critical.
If done by everyone, making sure your exposed water pipes are insulated before winter would save literally tens of millions of dollars each year in water damage. It’s not that time-consuming and takes little effort.
1-Tom-Plumber’s certified team of plumbers and drain technicians respond immediately to any emergency plumbing, drain, or water damage problem, including excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines. Our immediate-response team is available every day and night of the year, even on holidays.