How To Prevent Shallow Water Pipes From Freezing (Do This!) | Improved Home (2023)

How To Prevent Shallow Water Pipes From Freezing (Do This!) | Improved Home (1)

Winter can be hard to endure for a variety of reasons. The freezing temperatures can make you uncomfortable, snow can make the roads more dangerous and the risk of getting sick is greater. Don't forget how winter can affect your home, too.

Your water supply lines become particularly vulnerable in winter. You might wake up one morning to find your water pipes are frozen. Note that it is possible to avoid this uncomfortable scenario.

Keep your flat water lines from freezing by adding some kind of insulation. Specially designed pipe insulation is available, but leaves and snow can also be used. Another option is to use heating cables to prevent the water pipes from freezing.

Water supply lines can freeze in winter. Prevent that by following the tips we have included in this article.

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How To Prevent Shallow Water Pipes From Freezing (Do This!) | Improved Home (2)

When do water pipes freeze?

The winter season manifests itself differently in the United States. Some locations in the Midwest and Northeast experience heavy snowfall, while the South generally experiences a milder winter. Because of these different conditions, you don't always have to worry about your water pipes freezing up. So when should you be concerned?

Water pipes begin to freeze when the temperature drops to20 degrees Fahrenheit and below. However, the pipes will not freeze immediately. It usually takes about six hours for the pipes to freeze at the above temperature.

Frozen pipes aren't just a concern because they block your water supply. As soon as enough ice accumulates in a pipe, it can burst. Now, not only do you need to run out of water, but you also need to get your plumbing fixed.

No one should have to deal with the migraines that frozen water pipes can potentially cause. Be proactive so you can protect your water lines from the looming cold.

(Video) What To Do When Your Water Pipes Freeze | THE HANDYMAN |

The different ways to protect shallow water pipes from freezing

An effective way to keep water pipes from freezing is to bury them deep underground. You want to bury the pipes deeper than your state's freeze line to keep them functional. Of course, not all homeowners have this option. They may be able to bury their water supply lines under just a few inches of soil.

Shallow water pipes need more help to keep them from freezing completely. The actions we have listed below are what you should take if you are concerned about freezing your pipes.

Close your garage door

If your water supply lines run through your garage, there's an easy way to keep them from freezing. By keeping your garage door closed at all times, you can better protect your water lines. This isn't a solution that works for everyone, but it's definitely worth following if you have plumbing in your garage.

Cover the area above the pipes with temporary insulation

One of the most effective ways to keep your home warm in winter is with extra insulation. You can do the same for your water supply lines.

Insulating water supply lines can be done in a number of ways. The easiest way is to use items that are probably already in your yard. Gather a bunch of leaves and position them above the waterlines. You should pile up as many leaves as possible to effectively insulate the pipes. Break out the rake and better protect your water pipes.

You can also use snow as insulation for your plumbing. It might seem counterintuitive at first, but snow is actually a great insulator.

According to theNational Snow and Ice Data Center, Due to its composition, snow is an excellent insulator. A lot of air is trapped in fresh snow. If you use that as an insulator, it can effectively slow down the heat movement.

Use coiled-pipe insulation on the water lines

Leaves and piles of snow work well as makeshift insulators. Feel free to use them when you need to cover your water pipes in a hurry. They also work as an inexpensive frozen pipe counter.

However, these leaves and piles of snow are temporary solutions. If you want something that will protect your water supply lines longer, consider purchasing wrap-around pipe insulation. Pipe wrap insulation can be made from a variety of materials. These materials include foam, foil, and rubber. Manufacturers use a combination of these materials to keep the pipes well insulated.

Cover the water lines with about two to three layers of pipe jacketing to keep them from freezing. You can then use tape or zip ties to hold the insulation in place.

Also consider wrapping the insulation in plastic after securing it over the pipes. The plastic protects the insulation from water from outside. This should make the insulation last longer.

Surround your water supply lines with backfill

Backfilling is a good idea if you want to keep your shallow water lines at the right temperature. Note, however, that backfilling involves more than just putting some soil in the pipe trenches.

Compaction of the material used as backfill is critical to achieving the desired results. In order to accomplish this, you usually need to use an aptly named tool like a compactor or maybe an excavator. Basically, your shovel won't be good enough. The process of backfilling must also be done with care. Overcompact the material and you could end up damaging the pipes.

(Video) 12 TRICKS To WINTERIZE Your Plumbing! (Easy DIY) | GOT2LEARN

If you decide to backfill, you should ask the professionals to do it for you. Also, sand is a better insulator, so make sure you use it as backfill for your water supply lines.

Install heating cable

Heating cables specifically designed for water pipes are now available. These cables are designed to withstand the toughest outdoor conditions. They are also grounded to prevent accidents.

You can find heating cables that automatically adjust their temperature based on the conditions. That means you don't have to monitor the cables themselves. You can just turn them on and let them do their job.

The only real downside to using heating cables is that they use electricity. They'll be adding even bigger numbers to your already sizeable winter electricity bills.

Run water through your faucets

Running the water continuously through your flat water pipes can stop the freezing process. Open your faucet just enough to barely get a trickle of water. There is no need to crank it up to full speed.

Wasting water like this is never ideal, but it helps counteract freezing. Use it when you want to keep the pipes from freezing while working on longer lasting solutions.

Drain your sprinkler pipes

This last tip does not apply to water supply lines. Instead, you should use it on the pipes that supply water to your sprinklers.

Once winter begins, drain your sprinkler pipes. You won't be watering your lawn regularly during the winter, so draining the sprinkler pipes won't be a problem.

How do you thaw frozen water pipes?

Hopefully, the preventive measures outlined above were enough to keep your water supply lines from turning into long icicle tanks. Unfortunately, they may not work well enough if you haven't acted in time.

You need to focus on that nowThawing your water supply lines. There are easy ways to unfreeze these parts of your plumbing system. Simply turning on your faucet can help. As you run fresh water through your pipes, the icy contents should gradually melt.

Another thing you can do is warm up the pipes. Get a heating pad or some towels soaked in hot water and place them over the spot where the pipes are. You can also use a hair dryer to warm up this area. Just avoid using anything that creates a flame. That way you can end up doing more harm than good.

If your pipes are still frozen after trying these methods, call a plumber. Frozen pipes are bad, but burst pipes are worse. Call the plumber so you can save your water supply lines.

Do you need to hire a plumber?

Receive free, no-obligation quotes from professional contractors near you.


How To Prevent Shallow Water Pipes From Freezing (Do This!) | Improved Home (3)

(Video) 6 Tips to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing!

related questions

What are the other pipes in your house that are prone to freezing?

Aside from your shallow water lines, there are other pipes in and around your home that are prone to freezing. The pipes that run through external walls are particularly vulnerable. You need to insulate these walls if you want to better protect the pipes.

Pretty much any pipe in an unheated part of your home can freeze. For this reason, you should monitor the water lines in your attic, basement and/or crawl space.

What Are the Signs You Have Frozen Pipes?

The signs of frozen pipes are easy to spot. The most obvious sign is a change in water flow. Unless you were expecting a water disruption in your area, the low flow is likely due to a frozen pipe somewhere.

Frozen pipes can also allow unpleasant odors to enter your home. These smells come from your faucets.

Loud gurgling or popping also indicate frozen pipes. Small chunks of ice moving through your pipes are likely making these noises.

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Gary Evans

Gary Evans is a passionate DIY enthusiast. He loves figuring out how to make improvements in the simplest, most practical and least expensive way. Upgrading his home kitchen is one of his constant hobbies. Gary is also a longtime content creator and enjoys spending his free time tending to his hydroponic vegetable garden.

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(Video) How to Prevent Frozen Pipes | This Old House


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