Keep Pipes Warm During Cold Spells
There are several simple remedies to keep water pipes from freezing when the weather turns severely cold, as well as several remedies that can be costly. In either case, the idea is to prevent cold air from entering or to warm the area where cold air can't be stopped from entering. If pipes freeze check for pinhole leaks or cracks (after they've thawed) that can cause serious water damage to the home.
Here are ways to keep pipes from freezing in the first place:
- Leave the cabinet doors under the kitchen sink open so that the room air can warm the pipes.
- Place a lamp with a 60-watt bulb in the potential problem area to warm the walls and pipes. Make sure there are no combustible materials near the bulb.
- With rigid foam insulation, close and seal all foundation vents that are near water pipes.
- Insulate the foundation walls and the ends of the floor joists with rigid foam insulation.
- If the crawl access is inside the home, set a fan in the opening to blow warm air from the home to the foundation. Don't use a fan when the access is in an unheated garage or outside the home.
- If the water pipes are freezing inside the exterior wall, cut an opening in the wall to expose the pipes to the home's warm air. Place fiberglass insulation behind the pipes, between the pipes and the home's exterior wall. The hole in the wall can be covered later with a hinged door or a panel that can be removed during cold spells.
- Have the home's exterior walls insulated. Caulk and seal around doors, windows, house faucets and outside outlets.
Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors.