How to Prevent Frozen Water Pipes

December 10, 2019

Oklahoma winters bring sub-freezing temperatures that can wreak havoc on unprotected water pipes. A little preparation before the cold weather sets in can save you the expense and stress of water damage from frozen pipes bursting.

Pipes and plumbing fixtures often burst in the winter because water expands as it freezes. Pipes and plumbing that are outdoors and above ground are the first to freeze and break, but any pipe plumbing fixture that gets too cold can break.

Winterize all outdoor faucets.

Water left in the spigots on the outside of your home can freeze, causing a pressure buildup that can lead to a burst pipe in your crawlspace or basement. To prevent this, disconnect all water hoses, drain them, and store them inside a garage or shed. If there’s a shutoff valve for your home’s outdoor faucets, turn it off and open the spigots long enough to drain any remaining water from them.

Add insulation to water pipes located in unheated areas.

Frozen Pipes

If you have water lines running through the attic, garage or crawl space, they need to be protected from freezing. Wrap these pipes with foam insulating sleeves (available at your local hardware store), heat tape, or even newspaper and duct tape to provide an extra layer of protection from the cold.

Open cabinets under sinks and let the water run on very cold days.

If you notice your bathroom or kitchen doesn’t stay as warm as the rest of the house, protect the pipes in those areas by leaving cabinet doors open under the sink. This will make it easier for warm air to circulate and keep the pipes warmer. Letting a trickle of water run from each faucet will keep water flowing and help prevent frozen pipes.

Seal cracks, holes and gaps.

Sealing holes and cracks in areas where plumbing runs through walls or floors can reduce the risk of burst pipes. Caulking or using spray foam insulation to fill these air leaks around plumbing and throughout your home is also a good way to improve energy efficiency.

Winterize your sprinkler system.

Most sprinkler systems have a backflow preventer or well connections that are above ground and exposed to the elements. When water expands as it freezes inside these devices and connections they can easily break. Underground pipes are warmer, but during a deep freeze the plastic lines of a sprinkler system can crack or burst. These leaks may not be found for weeks or months, and they can be costly to repair.

Keep the heat running while you’re traveling.

You may be tempted to turn off the furnace to save money while you’re away for the holidays or traveling south for the winter, but this could end up costing you thousands to repair water damage if a pipe bursts. A better solution is to turn your thermostat down to 55 degrees. For added protection, turn off the main water supply to the house and open each faucet for a minute or two to drain any water left in the pipes.

What to do if a Water Pipe Bursts

First, shut off the water supply. Then, call Bailey Brothers Plumbing at 405-896-9988, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.