How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

You can’t control the winter temperatures, but you can reduce the risk of home damage during freezing weather. Frozen pipes can burst and cause serious damage (and a serious financial disaster). If you live in New Jersey, your plumbing needs to be prepared and protected against harsh winters — especially if you live in a home with old plumbing.

Prevention Now, Less Risk of Frozen Pipes Later

Some actions you can take right now include insulation and sealing out the winter air:

  • Add insulation sleeves or heat tape to pipes, especially in locations exposed to outside temperatures.
  • Weather seal windows, doors, crawl spaces.
  • Cover outside faucets and disconnect hoses. Make sure to drain the hoses first!
  • Consider adding insulation to basements and other unheated areas with pipes.

Protect Pipes When Leaving Town

Don’t turn the heating system off when you leave for vacation. Turn it down but keep the home heated to about 60 degrees at a minimum.

We also recommend shutting off water at the main valve if you will be gone for a few days. Zero water in the pipes protects you better than a dripping faucet, which can still freeze.

What to Do on the Coldest Days

When it drops below freezing outside, much of your plumbing will be exposed to the frost. Here’s what you can do temporarily on those coldest days and nights of a New Jersey winter:

  • Use a space heater in the basement or near pipes.
  • Open up cabinets and closet doors to let the home’s heated air warm the pipes.
  • Forego the low nighttime thermostat in favor of warmer temperatures throughout the house.

Finally, if you are afraid that your pipes are getting frozen, run the faucets to check for low water pressure. If you seem to have ice in the pipes, turn up the thermostat or use a space heater, and use a warm compress or blow dryer to gently warm the pipes.