Insulated-Pipe-Bib

How to Prep your Home for Freezing Temps in Houston

Web Staff Home Tips, HVAC, Plumbing

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April 17, 2024

How to Keep Your Pipes From Freezing In Houston

How to Protect Your Pipes and Home When the Temperature Dips

Houston homes are simply not built for cold weather, as we all remember from Winter Storm Uri. Additional precautions may be required to prepare your Houston area home for freezing temperatures. At John Moore, we want to help our neighbors be prepared with these tips from our Master Plumbers. And as always, we’re available if you need us! Call the experts at John Moore now for immediate help at (713) 730-2525

Getting Started

Tips from the Master Plumbers

Our Master Plumbers recommend the following to protect your pipes:

Tip #1: Unhook your garden hoses from all outdoor faucets

This eliminates the possibility of having water in the hose bib connection and freezing there.
Garden Hose

Tip #2: Wrap your pipes to protect them from the cold

Wind and cold air are what freeze pipes, and by properly covering up all exposed pipes from the wind you are taking the right steps to make sure your pipes don’t freeze up and burst. The wind chill is colder than the outside temperature and when it reaches a certain degree, it can destroy all unprotected piping.
Insulated-Pipe-Bib

All pipes, hose bibs, sprinklers, and the sprinkler pressure vacuum breaker that are exposed to the outside elements are vulnerable to freeze if not properly wrapped AND insulated. Many people wrap a towel or newspaper around an exposed pipe thinking that it will be enough to keep it from freezing, but this is not the case.

Using a towel to protect an outdoor pipe is a not a good idea because towels and newspapers can hold moisture and freeze directly on and around your pipe. Instead protect your plumbing with materials made specifically for pipe covering and insulating pipe, such as a polyethylene foam insulation wrap. The foam wrap will completely cover the exposed pipe and protect it from rain, wind, water, and cold air. Different sizes are available, and they can be purchased at your local hardware store.

Tip #3: Drain your sprinkler system

After making sure that the pipes and the sprinkler's pressure vacuum breaker are wrapped and insulated, turn off the water valve to the sprinkler and drain the system to help prevent water from expanding and damaging vulnerable parts of the system. Be sure to drain the pressure vacuum breaker after turning of the water to release the water hidden there and help avoid costly repairs. For a video showing how to do that, click here.
Vacuum Breaker

Tip #4: Check your thermostat and heater

Hopefully, your heater has already been inspected this season and had a recent tune-up and filter change. Flip your thermostat over to the heat setting, and do a quick test to make sure that it turns on properly now to prevent unexpected surprises.

Tip #5: Open your cabinet doors and leave faucets dripping

The best way to keep your pipes from freezing is to turn on a water faucet and let the water slowly trickle. Doing so will keep the water moving inside the line which will make it nearly impossible to freeze. It is not as important to do this during the day if you are home and actively using water, but should be done at night when everyone in the home is sleeping.
Open Cabinet

What to do if your pipes freeze

If your pipes freeze, don’t panic – just follow these steps:

Look carefully

Walk around your house and turn on every faucet to try and determine which pipes are frozen. Keep your faucets on and allow the frozen water to slowly trickle out of the faucet. This will assist in the thawing process.

Be patient and wait a freeze out

The best way to unfreeze your pipes and protect your plumbing is to give them time. It may take a few hours but eventually they will thaw and return to normal. The biggest mistake homeowners make is to try to quicken the process.

Do not use a torch (or a similar heat source) to try and warm it up. This can create stress problems and cause the pipe to crack. Once your pipe has frozen, the right thing to do is to wait it out and let it thaw naturally.

Call a Plumber

After your pipes have thawed, it is a good idea to inspect your whole piping system and to make sure the freeze didn’t cause any leaks. Until the pipes have thawed, it is nearly impossible to detect leakage or other damage so be sure to wait until once the pipes have thawed to perform the inspection. If you do see any leaks, call 713-730-2525 or book an appointment with a licensed plumber from John Moore to perform a professional inspection and address any issues.

Knowing what to do before, during, and after a freeze is an important of part of home ownership. By taking the right steps and protecting your pipes from the elements, you are extending the life of your whole plumbing system. Get prepping now, and stay warm and cozy during the cold weather ahead!

Infographic showing tips to prep your home and pipes for freezing temperatures

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