6 Great Tips to Keep Pipes From Freezing

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How to Keep Pipes From Freezing. Mike Kemp/Getty Images

Cold temperatures can cause pipes to freeze. Many landlords are afraid they will get this call from a tenant during the winter months. There are, however, steps you can take to prevent this problem. Learn six tips to keep the pipes on your property from freezing.

The Facts About Frozen Pipes

Only A Cold Climate Problem?

This is not the case. Many mistakenly believe that frozen pipes are only an issue for those in typically cold climates.

However, the homes that are actually more vulnerable to frozen pipes are those in typically warmer climates because the pipes may not be properly insulated against such frigid temperatures.

Frozen Pipes Can Burst

Frozen pipes are a problem by themselves because they prevent water flow, but even worse, frozen pipes can eventually burst, causing damage and potential flooding. The good news is, there are six easy steps you can take to help prevent this problem from occurring when the temperatures drop.

Tip #1: Keep the Heat On

If you or your tenants are leaving for a period of time, make sure that the heat is kept on your property. It may be difficult to convince your tenants to leave their heat on when they are away, especially if they are responsible for paying their own utilities. You should inform them that the heat can help prevent pipes from freezing, and if pipes freeze and burst, it can cause a lot of water damage to the property and to their possessions.

The heat does not have to be kept as high as you normally would keep it if you were actually in the property, but keeping it set above 50 degrees Fahrenheit is a good idea. This should provide enough heat to keep the pipes warm and to prevent any water inside from freezing.

Tip #2: Allow Faucet to Drip

If you are afraid a pipe will freeze, you can allow the faucet to drip slightly.

Allowing the faucet to be open like this will relieve pressure in the system. If a pipe freezes, it is actually the pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that will cause the pipe to burst. Allowing the faucet to be open will prevent this pressure from building up and thus, keep the pipe from bursting.

Tip #3: Keep Interior Doors Open

Pipes are often located in cabinets. When the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to keep these cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well. You should also keep all interior doors open so that the heat can flow throughout the home.

Tip #4: Seal Up Cracks and Holes

You should caulk any holes or cracks that exist near pipes. This should be done on both interior and exterior walls. Doing so can help keep the cold air out and the warm air in.

Tip #5: Apply Heating Tape

For pipes that are easily accessible, the electrical heating tape may be an option to keep them from freezing. This tape can be applied directly to the pipe.

There are two types of heating tape. One type of heating tape turns on and off by itself when it senses heat is needed. The other type of heating tape needs to be plugged in when heat is needed and unplugged when not in use.

Much like a space heater, these products can be dangerous, so you must follow the product’s direction and safety procedures exactly.

Tip #6: Add Extra Insulation

Pipes that are located in areas that do not have proper insulation, such as basements or attics, may need extra insulation to keep from freezing. Pipes in basements or attics are not the only ones that may not be properly insulated from the cold. If you have had a problem with pipes freezing anywhere in your home, extra insulation could be the cure.

Pipes can be fitted with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves to help decrease the chances of freezing. This can be an easy solution for pipes that are exposed but can get expensive if walls, floors or ceilings have to be opened in order to properly insulate the pipe. Additional insulation can also be added to walls and ceilings to keep the pipes warm.