Cold and blustery winter weather can cause plumbing pipes to freeze if one is unprepared for it. As a result, pipes may burst, causing flooding and costly water damage to the home. The best way to avoid this scenario is to take preventative measures before the cold weather arrives.

How It Happens

As water freezes, it expands. As a result, whatever is holding the water, including metal or plastic pipes, must withstand a tremendous amount of pressure and this may cause them to burst. Areas where pipes are most at risk include outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines. Inside your house, pipes which reside in unheated interior areas such as kitchen cabinets and basement areas are also at a high risk of freezing. It takes only 3 days of below-freezing temperatures in order for this to happen.

Prevent and Protect

The American Red Cross provides a lot of helpful information on how to prevent pipes from freezing. Begin by looking around the home to identify where unheated water supply lines are located. Pipes that are resting in these places may be insulated with products such a pipe sleeves or heat cables. In a pinch, one can even use newspaper to provide a small degree of insulation.

Keep the heat on in the home at a temperature no lower than 55° F during the day and night hours. Keep all kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open so that warmer air can circulate around them. However, keep the garage door closed if water pipes exist there. Keeping cold water dripping in every faucet is helpful, as even a trickle of water can stop the pipes from freezing.


If it is too late and pipes have already frozen, there are several ways to help remedy the situation. Begin by keeping the faucet in the open position. There are a few different ways to apply heat to the pipe and unfreeze it. Using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe is one method. Another is to use an electric hair dryer or portable space heater to do the job. Never attempt to use a blowtorch or any other type of open flame. Continue to apply heat until water begins to flow again.

If a homeowner is unable to fix the situation on their own, it is time to call in an expert. Our friendly team at Cullins One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning® is ready to help out with fast, professional service. Contact us today!