The Winter Blast Can Freeze Your Pipes

January 5, 2018 12:00 PM

Extremely low temperatures are forecast across the Northeast region for the next week or so. The force of water freezing (expanding) in a pipe can easily cause it to burst, resulting in floods when the ice thaws. Residents can take steps to prevent frozen pipes resulting in flood and damage to your home.

What to do now to keep your pipes from freezing:

  • Have cold water trickle from the faucets in the unit/home.
  • Keep garage doors closed if you have water supply lines or fire suppression lines in the garage floors, walls or ceilings.
  • Check to see if fire suppression lines (without antifreeze systems) are properly insulated.
  • Keep your thermostat set to a warm temperature. If you're leaving town, set it to no lower than 60 degrees.
  • Open the doors of any kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warm air into the plumbing areas. Be certain to move any cleaners or chemicals out of the reach of children and pets in these areas.
  • If you will be traveling, consider shutting off your water supply at your home's main valve. Be sure to drain your pipes by turning on your faucets.

If the pipes freeze: turn on the taps, try to warm the affected area with a hair dryer and call a licensed plumbing contractor immediately.

Good long-term measures to keep the water in your pipes from freezing:

  • All residential dwellings should be inspected for the required insulation and corrected as necessary. Exterior 2x4 walls should be filled with a minimum insulation value of R13. High performance R15 batts are available, but more expensive for the same wall thickness.
  • Attic ceilings should have R38 insulation values.
  • Band areas (outer edges of floor/ ceiling systems) should have R19 values.
  • All batts should snugly fit the openings where they are installed. Do not compress the batts to "squeeze" additional insulation in; this actually reduces the performance of the insulation.
  • Do not fill gaps intended for roof ventilation.
  • Penetrations for electrical boxes, plumbing pipes, wiring and ductwork should be completely sealed with insulation or injected foam.
  • Insulate or relocate fire suppression and water supply pipes within 2" of the bottom of the ceiling framing. Drape batt insulation over the pipes to protect them from drafts above and allow warm air from the conditioned room below to offer additional protection.
  • The backs of the attic access panels in the third floor dormers should be insulated with a minimum of 3" of rigid foam board.
  • Weather seals should be installed around the openings of the panels as well.

Proper methods and materials should be used for all the above described repairs.


This article is used by permission of The Falcon Group, a CAI 2018 Diamond Partner. For more information, please visit The Falcon Group online at:

Back to news