how to stop pipes from freezing

How to Stop Pipes From Freezing This Winter

Although Ireland experiences relatively mild winters, knowing how to stop pipes from freezing is crucial if you want to avoid a plumbing emergency. During a typical January, daily temperatures average out around 7°C. However, it’s not uncommon for nighttime temperatures to plummet below freezing during the colder months. 

When temperatures are low enough, there’s a real danger of water freezing inside your pipework. When water turns to ice, it expands, which can lead to pipes bursting and costly leaks occurring. Pipes that lie outside of your house are most at risk, as are any pipes that lie in a poorly insulated part of your property. Pipes in basements, garages, and loft spaces are all prone to freezing and bursting.  
Knowing how to stop pipes from freezing is a key step to winterproofing your home and plumbing system effectively. Need help tackling troublesome pipes that are prone to freezing? At Brosnan Property Solutions, we’ve been providing property maintenance and facility management services to customers throughout Ireland for many years. If at-risk pipework is keeping you awake at night, our expert team is here to help.  

Ways To Stop Pipes From Freezing 

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to stop pipes from freezing, purchasing pipe insulation is a good idea. Pipe insulation material is cheap and easy to put in place. It will add an extra layer of protection against the cold to your plumbing. 

Invest in Pipe Insulation 

You don’t have to add insulation material to all of your pipework. Instead, focus on spaces that don’t receive any heating. This includes areas like basements, lofts, and storage spaces.  
Knowing how to stop pipes from freezing is essential once the dead of winter arrives. “Exterior pipes are frequently prioritized, but even interior pipework is vulnerable to freezing temperatures,” said Ray Brosnan, the Managing Director of Brosnan Property Solutions. “If your kitchen backs onto an outside window, there’s a good chance the pipework underneath is vulnerable to freezing.” 

If you’re worried about pipes freezing in the house, use foam insulation to protect them against the cold. Heat tape can also provide added protection against cold snaps, frosts, and freezing conditions. 

Keep Your Home Warm at a Consistent Temperature 

One of the best ways to stop pipes from freezing is to ensure your home is heated at a consistent temperature. During the winter, the general consensus is that your thermostat should be set between 18 and 21°C. These temperatures will keep your home comfortable while also preventing pipes from freezing.  
It’s tempting to turn down the thermostat to combat rising energy bills, but avoid doing this during cold snaps. If you’re going to be away from home for more than a day or two, it’s worth keeping the heating on. The minimum temperature to keep pipes from freezing is 13 °C, although you may want to turn the thermostat up a notch if your home is poorly insulated. 

Does keeping the heating on stop pipes from freezing? Not always, especially if your system has cold spots. However, a small premium on your energy bills means you won’t have to swallow the cost of expensive plumbing repairs should your pipes freeze and burst while you’re away.  

Keep Outside Drain Pipes from Freezing 

Knowing what temperature will keep pipes from freezing is only useful for internal pipework. Your outside pipework will ultimately be left to the elements. Thankfully, keeping your overflow and drain pipes from freezing is fairly easy. 

The best advice is to insulate as much of your pipework as you can, including any valves and fittings. Now that gardening tasks are off the agenda for the time being, drain your outside taps and cover these with insulation as well.  

Identify Air Leaks and Drafts 

If you’re looking for more ways to stop pipes from leaking, check your property for any air leaks and drafts. “Even if you’re using your central heating system liberally, cold air can seep in from just about anywhere to bring down internal temperatures,” Ray Brosnan says. “Windows are common entry points, so look for signs that the seals have been broken and fix them with a caulking gun.” 

Weather stripping can also be useful. Your doors will also need to be inspected. Again, check for damage to the seals around your door frames, as well as any glass panes. Adding a draft excluder to any door that opens directly to the outside is also worth doing.  
Even though it doesn’t happen as often, cold air can get into your home through outlets and light switches. Check for signs of a draft around sockets and think about calling in an electrician if you notice any issues. If you regularly use your garage for DIY projects or car repairs, make sure you keep the door closed during the winter months. If you don’t, you’re inviting huge volumes of cold air into your home.  

Improve Air Circulation in Your Home 

It’s always a good idea to allow warm air to circulate through your home during the winter months. It helps minimise heating costs, while also combating things like dampness and mould growth. If you’re searching for advice on how to stop pipes from freezing, you can deploy this same tactic. 

Although you won’t be able to access concealed pipework, you should at least think about opening kitchen and bathroom cupboards. This way, warm air can reach those out-of-the-way spaces housing cold-sensitive pipework.  

Don’t Worry About a Dripping Tap 

A dripping tap can be an annoyance. However, if you’re noticing a constant drip coming from your kitchen tap or bathroom fittings, leave the spanner in the toolbox until the weather picks up. There’s a lot of advice about how to stop pipes from freezing during winter, but allowing a trickle of water through your pipework is always a good idea. 

You can run hot or cold water to keep pipes from freezing, but a steady trickle should keep things moving, even if the temperatures outside are below freezing. Target problem areas within the home that are exposed to the most frigid temperatures. This way, you shouldn’t encounter any issues with frozen or burst pipework.  

Make Sure Your Boiler Has Been Recently Serviced 

A good way to avoid frozen pipes is to make sure that your boiler is serviced regularly. A qualified plumber will be able to inspect your boiler for any performance issues, while also giving you suggestions on how to stop pipes from freezing. During an inspection, they can also look for cold spots that might be more likely to break down in cold weather. 

A boiler service should be carried out at least once every 12 months. For peace of mind, schedule your next boiler inspection during the winter so you’re on top of any issues that might rear your head during a dreaded cold snap. 

What to Do in an Emergency 

Knowing how to stop pipes from freezing is all well and good, but you can’t always prepare for an extreme freeze. Even if you’ve taken all the right precautions, you may find yourself dealing with a frozen pipe that has burst. If the worst should happen and your pipes burst, leaks are an immediate concern. 

Leaks can cause huge amounts of structural damage to a property, so you need to be able to shut down your water supply as quickly as possible. If you don’t know where your stopcock is, now’s the time to find out. Once you’ve located it, make sure it can be accessed quickly so you can stop a leak in its tracks and arrange for plumbers to perform essential repairs.  

Turn Off Your Water Supply 

If you plan on being away from home for a few days or more during the winter, it might be an idea to turn off the water. While this removes your boiler and central heating system from the equation, it does mean that water cannot linger in your pipes and freeze during freezing temperatures. Once you’ve turned off the water, run your taps until they’re empty to ensure there’s nothing left in your system.  

Searching for Plumbing Services? 

Even if you know how to stop pipes from freezing, there will always be times when sub-zero temperatures cause a plumbing emergency. At Brosnan Property Solutions, we’ve been the go-to provider for facility, property, and project management solutions for more than 20 years. 

Whether you’re looking for plumbing solutions or boiler service support, our team is ready and waiting to help. What’s more, we also provide landscape gardeners, roof repairs, handyman services and more.  

Dealing with a burst pipe? Want to invest in insulation to make frozen pipes a thing of the past? Get in touch via the online contact form today or give us a call at 0818 333770