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How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing

About a quarter of a million homes sustain damage from broken pipes every winter. Here's how to avoid a similar fate.


  • Step 1: Attend to outdoor hoses Unhook, drain, and store outdoor hoses. Close any inside water valves that supply outdoor hose bibs. Leave outdoor hose bib valves open to allow water to drain out.
  • TIP: Remember to drain water from swimming pool and sprinkler supply lines.
  • Step 2: Insulate pipes Find exposed pipes in unheated areas, such as basements, attics, and garages, and install insulation, such as a pipe sleeve, heat cable, or heat tape, on both cold and hot water pipes.
  • TIP: Use insulation products approved by an independent testing organization.
  • Step 3: Seal air leaks Use caulk to seal any areas where cold air can come in from. Look for air leaks around electrical wiring, dryer vents, and pipes.
  • Step 4: Keep the garage closed Keep the garage door closed whenever possible to keep pipes in that space from freezing.
  • Step 5: Open cabinets Open kitchen and bathroom cabinets on exterior walls to allow warm air to circulate around pipes.
  • Step 6: Run water Let warm water drip from an exterior-wall faucet overnight when below-freezing temperatures persist.
  • Step 7: Keep the house warm Keep the thermostat above 55 degrees – don't get caught off guard by a flooding basement!
  • FACT: Even a small crack in a pipe can leak up to 250 gallons of water in a day.

You Will Need

  • A pipe insulator
  • Caulk

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