How to Save Money by Preventing & Treating Frozen Pipes

February 17, 2007

One of the fastest ways to blow a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars on home repairs is a burst water pipe. Below are tips on preventing and dealing with frozen water pipes that I ran across yesterday as we hassled with two of them in our house.

It’s not surprising we had a problem considering the recent single digit temperatures here in the Midwest. If the temperature in your areas drops, beware! A article reports that the majority of frozen pipe incidents occur when the outside temperature is 20°F or below.

The article recommends insulating your pipes and sealing any cracks in your outside walls and foundations near water pipes. You can also use electric heating tapes and cables but be sure the tape is certified by a nationally recognized testing lab to prevent fire hazards. Here is a helpful article on how to install heat tape.

Another method is letting your faucet drip during extreme cold.

“opening a faucet will provide relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. If there is no excessive water pressure, there is no burst pipe, even if the water inside the pipe freezes.”

Damage Control
I spent most of the day yesterday thawing out our frozen pipes. I turned to this advice from for help. The article suggests four different methods for taking care of frozen pipes.

  • Use electric heat tape on the pipe.
  • Wrap the pipe with several layers of cloth or toweling and pour hot water over the cloth / toweling.
  • Direct a heat lamp on the pipe itself.
  • Hold a hand-operated hair dryer to the pipe, and slowly move up and down the length of the frozen section.

I opted for the heat lamp and hair dryer approach and by the end of the day the pipes were clear! Make sure you read the caution section for each method in the article so you don’t cause yourself or home any further harm.

Prevention is the Best Cure
After spending a whole day working on and worrying about frozen pipes, I wish I had done a better job preparing our house to avoid them. If you think this could be a potential problem in your home learn from my lesson and get to work! It can save you a good deal of time and money in the long run.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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3 Responses to How to Save Money by Preventing & Treating Frozen Pipes

  • moneysmartz

    I agree, that foam pipe insulation is pretty slick. When we finished our basement, I put it on all the pipes running along the outer wall.

    Litle things like that may take more time and money up front but can really save you both in the end.

  • Clever Dude

    I also recommend, if you have a crawl space, to insulate your crawl space. I posted about this on my site recently.

    Another thing we did in our crawl space is to purchase pipe insulation (it’s round foam formed to fit around pipes). You just need to slip them on the pipes and tape them closed. You especially want to do this for any pipes that hang below the insulation in your crawl space. It may also be useful in colder basements as well.


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