Keeping Water Pipes from Freezing


Due to cold weather and power outages over Christmas, many households had to leave their homes to find a warm place. My son was one of these. He was worried about his water pipes freezing and bursting. A neighbor gave him some great advice that worked very well, giving him peace of mind and avoiding expensive repairs. Others may like to use this tip if they find themselves in the same predicament.


Just go to the shut-off valve at the meter, and shut it off. Then open all the faucets in the house and let the cold water run until there is no more water coming out of the faucets. This means the pipes are now empty. The reason pipes burst is because the water in them expands as it freezes. So no water----no freezing. Winter is not over yet, so someone may be able to use this tip.
Harlean from AR

Comment Was this helpful? 4
Read More Comments

7 More Solutions

Share on ThriftyFunThis page contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

We had an unusually cold snap during the last few days in Houston. Many folks had pipes which burst. Others were outside in their cold weather gear wrapping pipes and covering outdoor faucets.

Comment Was this helpful? 2

To keep your outside water faucet from freezing and getting damaged, keep the hose unhooked during freezing weather. Also, Walmart carries a Styrofoam cover made to hook onto the faucet and keep it covered.

Comment Was this helpful? 1

December 1, 2004

In areas with freezing temperatures, if you don't have your pipes wrapped, you can leave your inside faucet dripping (just a small trickle will do, from the furtherest faucet from the water pipe entrance of your home) while you're sleeping so your water lines won't freeze and burst. By Terri H.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes


Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

January 24, 2005

We live in a very old house in Maine. The subzero weather we have been having lately has our pipes bursting constantly. (We use mostly a woodstove to save on money, so our cellar is cold). Is there anything we can do to stop the pipes from bursting? My husband has been repairing pipes for 3 days straight. Our cellar is dirt and the pipes are only copper water pipes, (not heat, as we have forced hot air). We also we were wondering if its OK to turn off the water at the base where it comes into the house or will it make matters worse? Thank you for any advice.

Susan - Maine


By Johanna (Guest Post)
January 24, 20050 found this helpful

Home Depot or Lowes sells heat tape specifically for this purpose. Also, good idea to leave cold water trickling at all times. Don't know about turning the water off but hope this helps.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
January 24, 20050 found this helpful

On really cold days, I was told to let the faucets trickle on outside walls. My pipes are 100 years old haven't froze yet, maybe I've been just lucky. I also shut off any water I'm not using from the main valves (i.e outside water, unused toilets and sinks)

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By Johanna (Guest Post)
January 24, 20050 found this helpful

Before shutting off any water be sure that faucet is left open!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
January 24, 20050 found this helpful

thanks for all your you think by not using our furnace it is making things extra cold in the cellar and that may be why we are having this bursting pipe problem?

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By OLB (Guest Post)
January 24, 20050 found this helpful

I keep the faucet furtherest from the well ( or watetr source) dripping, this causes the water to move and doesn't freeze. I also heat with wood stove, but don't have a basement, I also keep all outside faucets dripping slowly -= no broken pipes in over 360 years!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
January 24, 20050 found this helpful

In Britain, where the main water water pipes into the house are often routed via the unheated roof space burst pipes happened occasionally in winter, (many houses only had heating from open fires in individual rooms). The recommendation then was to 'lag' or insulate your pipes. This used to be by wrapping them in a hessian type material but now you can buy long split tubes of synthetic rubber type material you just open up and slip onto the pipe. As well as the other suggestions you may want to think about insulating the pipes that rupture the most frequently.

I don't quite understand the question about turning off the water. Do you mean turn it off and empty the pipes each night when you go to bed? I suppose that would work, but even if you didn't empty the pipes and they still burst it would save a lot of mess as the leakage would be minimised.

It may be helpful to ask what your neighbours do as they must have the same problems and solutions.



Reply Was this helpful? Yes
January 24, 20050 found this helpful

If you have a place to plug them in use heat tapes. This is used on mobile homes and it really works. You can purchase them at Loews or other hardware stores.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By lisa (Guest Post)
January 25, 20050 found this helpful

if you could set up a light bulb in the area that freezes it would be a big help.It is amazing how much heat one light bulb puts out. Also insulate the pipes with the tube insulation .
we had to put a l-bulb around our well in our basement before the house went up .. worked like a charm.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By kathy (Guest Post)
January 25, 20050 found this helpful

Yes, if you turn off your furnace, it can make the cellar too cold and cause the pipes to burst. I have heard you should not turn off your furnace, but leave it set at (I think it was) 58 degrees. Also, the suggestions about leaving a faucet dripping are true too. Think of the expense of fixing these pipes as opposed to leaving the furnace on or the faucet dripping. Good luck!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
January 25, 20050 found this helpful

I live in upstate NY and just had my pipes freeze this past weekend. Not only my water, but my sewer pipe too. I have found out that if you position a blow dryer on your water pipe it will thaw it out in a jiffy. Putting table salt down the toilet and waiting with a fan blowing on the sewer pipe in the cellar unthawed that too. Hope this is of help to someone. Finni

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By RoseMary (Guest Post)
January 25, 20050 found this helpful

HI. We live in the mountains of Colorado in a mobile home and the wind here is awful. Before we moved in my husband put the heat tape all over our pipes. And since we have just skirting and not a foundation he put that bubble wrap silver lined stuff over the foam pipe covers throughout the lenght of the mobile home on every pipe that was not in the house. It froze once and that was because the tape had gotten unplugged by accident when we were putting some tires underneath the mobile home for storage. That was over 6 years ago and never a frozen pipe since. Great stuff and a very insiteful husband. RoseMary

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By Sheila (Guest Post)
January 25, 20050 found this helpful

I live in Michigan and have a summer home up north and we put heat tape on our pipes to keep them from freezing. A light doesn't work well cuz sometimes the freezing weather blows out the bulb and then you have freezing pipes again. Make sure the heat tape has a thermostat on them and you don't ever have to remove them and they will come on by themselves when it gets cold. They also have a kill switch in case of a short they will automatically click off. I got mine at home depot but Lowes also has them. Good Luck

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By Hal (Guest Post)
January 27, 20050 found this helpful

The heat tape is an excellent idea but turning the furnace back on would be a great start. The furnace is an integrated part of the house and when used properly it will deliver the right amount of heat to the basement to keep the pipes from freezing. You can reduce the flow of heat to the basement to keep it around 40F or so while keeping the upper portion comfortable. If you choose to use the fireplace also you want to be cautious about the location of it to the thermostat. If the fire gives off too much heat the thermostat will never kick on. You may also want to try leaving the furnace off but the furnace fan on all of the time. That will get a good air flow through the house and may warm the basement just enough... That only works if you have cold air returns to the furnace from the upstairs... Best of luck to you

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
February 16, 20050 found this helpful

We live in the Arizona desert and during the sometimes freezing weather have had frozen pipes. That is until we covered them with old blankets or burlap.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By audra salazar (Guest Post)
January 8, 20070 found this helpful

There is a product called IceLoc, it is a passive material that is made with an FDA approved material. Its easy to install (feed into pipe) and forget about it. It won't prevent freezing, but your pipes won't burst.
Good luck!! Iceloc is starting to be used in the state buildings here in NM and has been used in several different locations back east.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By RL (Guest Post)
January 9, 20070 found this helpful

I live in the Boston Mass. area.I have a wood stove on the first floor and I put one in the basement so my pipes won't freeze.The first floor stove heats so well that my furnace won't come on then my cellar becomes cold.The stove in the basement now keeps my cellar nice and toasty.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
By Matthew and Audra (Guest Post)
April 21, 20070 found this helpful

ICELOC Works awesome

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

January 6, 2014

Would shutting off water to your house in extremely cold weather prevent pipes from bursting?

By Kally M

Read More Answers

October 19, 2008

I have just purchased a house in Middletown, CT and thought I was being smart by buying a pellet stove to beat the high oil costs. My house is a two-story house with a basement. I installed the stove on the first floor. As it gets cooler I have realized how cold the basement gets now that the furnace never kicks in. My worry is frozen pipes.

My thermostat is also on the first floor so I am thinking it needs to be moved. My first thought was to move it to the second floor and away from the heat. But then I started thinking of moving it to the basement and setting it to 58. The basement move would be far easier than moving it to the second floor but I don't know if it is a good idea or not. Any one out there with some advice/input?


Read More Answers


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

February 10, 2011

Start now preparing for winter weather. Winter is coming. Be sure and wrap your outdoor water pipes or use the pipe insulation you can buy at a hardware store.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
Home and Garden Home Improvement WeatherizingJanuary 25, 2013
Pest Control
Father's Day Ideas!
Mother's Day Ideas!
Ask a Question
Share a Post
Better LivingBudget & FinanceBusiness and LegalComputersConsumer AdviceCoronavirusCraftsEducationEntertainmentFood and RecipesHealth & BeautyHolidays and PartiesHome and GardenMake Your OwnOrganizingParentingPetsPhotosTravel and RecreationWeddings
Published by ThriftyFun.
Desktop Page | View Mobile
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Generated 2021-05-09 20:16:55 in 3 secs. ⛅️️
© 1997-2021 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved.