How to Keep Outdoor Water Pipes from Freezing

If you live in a part of the country that gets cold, you will need to know how to keep outdoor water pipes from freezing. 

Let us walk you through your options and the DIY for keeping those outdoor water pipes from freezing. 

how to keep outdoor water pipes from freezing

How to Keep Outdoor Water Pipes from Freezing 

There are 4 things you can do to keep your outdoor water pipes from freezing.  Some are easier and some are cheaper than others.   

  1. Drain outside water lines 
  2. Keep the outside tap dripping (Why NOT to do this Outside) 
  3. Move the exposed pipes 
  4. Insulate your outdoor pipes 

How to keep Outdoor Water Pipes from Freezing: The Details 

Drain Outside Water Lines 

Draining outside water lines will remove all the water from the lines.  Then there’s no water to freeze and expand inside the pipes causing them to burst.  Your pipes could still become brittle over the years, being frozen and defrosting over and over again.  So, while I do recommend draining your pipes, you should also think about both insulating the pipe and possibly moving the exposed pipe inside or underground. 

Keep the Outside Tap Dripping (with a Warning) 

Keeping your outside tap dripping just a bit means the water is running and running water doesn’t freeze easily.  Problem with this advice seen on other sites, is that it might work inside your house, but it won’t work outside.  It’s colder outside and the water will just start freezing into layers of ice.  Eventually it will build up inside the pipe, bursting it or causing a backup. 

Move the Exposed Pipes 

This is the most expensive option.  You would need to have some know-how or hire a plumber to physically move the pipes that are outdoors and exposed to the weather.  Those pipes would then be located inside.  Not anyone’s first choice, but an option worth mentioning.   

Insulate Outdoor Water Pipes 

Insulating your outdoor water pipes involves wrapping them up to prevent the cold from directly impacting your pipes.  You can insulate them with foam insulation or pipe wrap.  You can also get foam fitted to elbow and T joints to properly protect the whole pipe from freezing temps.  Keep reading for our directions on how to get this done. 

How cold does it have to be for outside pipes to freeze? 

According to hopeplumbing.com, the temp would have to be about 20 degrees for 6 consecutive hours.  This is easy to accomplish in some parts of the country, so everyone should insulate their pipes before the cold weather hits.   

How to Insulate Outdoor Water Pipes: Keep Your Outdoor Water Pipes from Freezing  

Insulating your outdoor water pipes is super easy.  Here are the basic steps to get ‘er done with foam pipe sleeve insulation (the most popular kind).  This method below works best for straight pipes. 

Basic things you will need to insulate your outdoor pipes to keep them from freezing: Foam pipe sleeve insulation, Duct tape, utility knife. 

Always measure your outdoor pipes before you buy foam pipe sleeve insulation so you have enough to do the job. 

You will also want to count your T joints and pipe elbows and buy insulation for those.  Another option is you can cover them with pipe wrap or cut your foam sleeve insulation to fit.   

Don’t forget about your faucets; they also need to be covered to prevent freezing.  You can buy faucet protectors or you can cut your foam sleeves and pipe wrap to fit.   

How to Protect Outdoor Water Pipes from Freezing: How do You Winterize Outdoor Pipes? 

Here are 5 simple steps to insulate your outdoor pipes from the harsh cold winter weather. 

  1. Put foam pipe sleeve onto the pipe, open it up, slide it onto your pipe 
  2. Cut the sleeve to match the length of your pipe (if your pipe is shorter than your sleeve) 
  3. Put extra foam aside for using on T joints, elbows, and faucets 
  4. Seal up the whole seam of the foam sleeve with duct tape 
  5. Seal up the ends of the foam sleeve with duct tape 

If your pipe needs more than one sleeve, make sure each end of the sleeve is flush with the next sleeve and seal them up together with duct tape. 

How to Keep above Ground Water Line from Freezing  

You would use the same insulation technique as above.  Because the water line may be the main line to your home, you may also want to invest in an electric pipe heater that you secure along the length of your pipe to keep it warm. 

Conclusion 

How to keep outdoor water pipes from freezing is an easy DIY task that most homeowners must do before the cold winter sets in.  It will save you a ton of headache and CASH. 

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