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If you've ever had the misfortune of having a water pipe freeze and burst, you know first hand about what a devastating impact it can have on your home. The broken pipe itself is actually relatively minor, but the damage caused by the leaking water running through your walls and ceiling can mean a major reconstruction project, requiring replacing drywall, ceilings and maybe even furniture and appliances. Here are some ways to make sure you never have to go through that hassle.

Things You'll Need

  • Fiberglass or rockwool insulation
  • Preformed pipe sleeve insulation
  • Electrical heating tape

Instructions

  • Plan ahead and figure out which pipes could potentially freeze. Water pipes running through unheated crawl spaces and pipes running through walls to the outside are prime candidates for freezing.
  • Turn off the water supply lines running to your outside taps before the cold weather arrives. There is usually a shut off valve in the water supply line close to where it goes through the outside wall. Once the water is shut off inside, go outside and open the outside taps as well. This will drain any water remaining in the pipe or in the tap, so there's nothing to freeze.
  • Check any pipes that run close to outside walls. Put some fiberglass insulation or rockwool between the pipe and the wall to help keep the cold away from the pipe.
  • Insulate any pipes that run through unheated crawl spaces. Wrap them with fiberglass insulation and tape or put preformed pipe sleeve insulation along the pipes, then tape the sleeves in place.
  • Install electrical heating tape (available at home stores) on any pipes that run through areas that get really cold, like garages.

Tips & Warnings

  •  A hot water pipe running through an uninsulated or unheated area can freeze just as solidly as a cold water pipe, so insulate both hot and cold water pipes in any of these places.
  • If the cold weather moves in before you have a chance to protect your pipes, a temporary solution is to leave your taps running just a trickle, since flowing water won't freeze as quickly as still water.
  • Some insurance policies don't cover water damage to your home caused by burst pipes. If you leave your home for an extended time during the cold season, it's best to drain all the water from your water pipes. Turn off the main shut off on your water supply, then open taps to drain the water lines. Be sure to turn off your water heater as well.

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