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Preventing Frozen Pipes

preventing frozen pipes

Preventing frozen pipes was not a priority for the plumber who did this poor job. These CPVC water lines froze even though they were covered with insulation. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter

Water Pipes Need Not Freeze

Water supply lines in your home freeze because they get cold. Your plumber or builder should be smart enough to know to keep water lines on the warm sides of floors and walls.

Preventing Frozen Pipes Checklist:

  • Water lines should be installed on the warm side of walls and floors
  • Design house or room addition so plumbing fixtures are not on exterior walls if possible
  • Exterior walls and floors that must have water lines must be oversized and thicker
  • Water lines in exterior walls and cold floors must touch up against warm wall surface
  • Create one-inch air space between water lines and tight-fitting closed cell foam insulation in wall / floor cavity

Related Links:

Frozen Pipes in Outside Walls Are a Thing of the Past

Frozen Pipe Story and Solution

Free & Fast Bids

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local plumbers that can install pipes that won't freeze.

Installation Requires Attention To Detail

Extra attention is required for preventing frozen pipes. Do all these things:

  • Use PEX piping in walls subject to freezing. PEX can handle repeated freeze/thaw events without bursting
  • Install separate easy-to-access shutoff valves for water lines that could freeze in case lines burst
  • Turn off water shutoff valves in bitter weather and open faucet valves to release pressure

PEX No-Burst Water Pipe is Easy to Install

Watch me demonstrate how to connect PEX piping to a fitting in about 15 seconds. PEX is something to use when thinking about how you'll take care of preventing frozen pipes. This plastic piping is true DIY plumbing piping material.

You don't need a fancy power tool like you see me use in the video. Simple hand-powered expansion tools can be purchased very affordably.

It's important to realize you can convert to PEX piping from copper, CPVC or any other water supply line. Just use PEX in those walls / floors that are in danger of freezing.

CLICK HERE to get FREE & FAST BIDS from local plumbers that can install pipes that won't freeze.


10 Responses to Preventing Frozen Pipes

  1. Happy New Year Tim, thank you for all the extremely valuable building information you provide all of us.Best to you,
    Robert Verde

  2. You may be a master plumber and love PEX, but having suffered through water damage from 6 PEX pipe failures (none due to cold weather), I hate the stuff. I turn off the water supply line every time I leave the house.

    • Are you sure you have PEX? Is it the PEX failing or bad fittings and fitting connectors?

      There have been several PEX systems where the fittings fail, not the actual PEX.

      Give us all a full report. Send me photos of the failures and I'll happily publish them to help others!

  3. Looks great! Will the connection to the PEX pipe reduce the flow of water when I attach the PEX pipe to conventional PVC pipe ? Thanks.

  4. I don't understand the reasoning behind this recommendation: "Create one-inch air space between water lines and tight-fitting closed cell foam insulation in wall / floor cavity." Please explain.

  5. Tim, we have two pipes extending from our house at the lake that extend from the furnace, one intake, the other exhaust. Since building the house 18 Years ago, we have never had a problem. The intake pipe decided to dam up and cause the furnace to shut down this past weekend. We’re just grateful we were there when it happened as the temperatures were dropping to below zero at night. Will you please make a suggestion as to what we can do to prevent that ice dam in the pipe in the future? Thank you very much. By the way, I really enjoy reading your posts. Theresa

  6. I wonder if installing the less desirable post construction water re circulation system would be effective for preventing frozen pipes since it utilizes both pipes to always have hot water at demand fixtures. I read once ' the hot water pipe freezes first ', so the new construction 3rd pipe system may not be the best for preventing frozen pipes. For outside faucets I have modified / installed a single socket night light bulb into the cavity of a styro foam cover. Put it on a timer. Works great.

  7. Tim, Good post as always. I've not seen the "Expand" connection option for PEX here. (Wisconsin) It is all crimp connector method. Crimp a brass ring over the connection. If the gentleman that had PEX issues was using a crimp method like I did, it is possible to get leaks if you don't do a good crimp. I replaced all the copper to PEX at the family cabin after some pipes burst this last winter due to a poor winterization. The bad PEX connections I had were all related to a difficult crimp area and I didn't crimp it squarely, I was off angle a bit. The nice thing about PEX is use their cutting tool to remove the bad crimp and replace. Life is good now.

  8. Clever stuff. Question: can you get the fittings apart and reuse the fittings and pipe?

    Next question: how well does it work with repeated freezing? I have a solar water preheater that uses EPDM tubing as the collector, and it freezes almost every night. Warms up to 90-100 degrees on a sunny day. It's been doing this for 35 years.

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