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12 Ways to Avoid Frozen Pipes during Chicago’s Subzero Temperatures

Chicago winters can be brutal, with subzero temperatures making it almost unbearable to step outdoors. However, along with the cold comes the risk of frozen pipes, which can cause a lot of damage to your home and require costly repairs. As a long time general contractor in Chicago, who has seen the aftermath of frozen pipe disasters firsthand, we have put together this list of 12 ways to avoid frozen pipes during Chicago’s subzero temperatures.

  1. Keep your home heated: The first and most obvious step is to keep your home heated, even if you are going out for a short period. Set your thermostat at a temperature above 55 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure that the pipes stay warm and avoid freezing.
  2. Let the faucet drip: Water flowing through the pipes creates a natural movement that prevents them from freezing. Leaving your faucet open slightly to allow for a slow drip helps keep the water moving and prevents freezing.
  3. Insulate pipes: Insulating exposed pipes with foam or wrap insulation is a cost-effective solution that can prevent your pipes from freezing. Pay special attention to pipes in unheated areas such as the attic, basement, or garage.
  4. Seal drafts: Block drafts and cold air from entering your home by sealing openings around doors and windows using weather stripping and caulk. This measure helps to maintain a consistent temperature in your home, including those hard-to-reach pipes.
  5. Keep garage doors closed: The garage can be one of the coldest parts of your home, with temperatures often falling below freezing. Shutting the garage door or keeping it insulated helps keep the warm air in and cold air out, protecting pipes located in the garage.
  6. Open cabinet doors: Pipes located behind closed cabinets in your kitchen or bathroom need warmth to stay protected as well. Opening the cabinet doors periodically allows for warm air to circulate and prevents any water contained in the pipes from freezing.
  7. Drain outdoor faucets: Disconnecting outside hoses and turning off the water supply reduces the risk of frozen outdoor pipes. Open the faucet to allow for any water left inside to drain and eliminate the chance of any potential damage.
  8. Install heat tape: Heat tape is an electrical heating wire that can be attached to pipes, then activated to keep them warm. It is easily installed and a great option for pipes located in areas that are hard to reach, such as the attic or crawl space.
  9. Maintain your heating system: Your heating system needs to be in good working condition to ensure your home stays warm and your pipes don’t freeze. Regular inspections by a qualified professional will catch any issues before they result in frozen pipes.
  10. Keep your home well-insulated: Insulation is key to a warm home in the winter and a must-have to prevent your pipes from freezing. Proper attic insulation reduces the flow of heat from your home to the outside, which keeps the pipes warm.
  11. Install a thermal expansion tank: A thermal expansion tank absorbs the excess pressure that builds up in hot water systems, preventing the risk of frozen or burst pipes. A licensed plumber can install a thermal expansion tank in your home quickly and easily.
  12. Shut off main water valve: Lastly, if you’re going away on vacation or leaving your home for an extended period, it’s a good idea to shut off your main water valve. This prevents water from running and limits the potential for freeze damage.

Protecting your home from frozen pipes is critical, especially during Chicago’s subzero temperatures. The cost to repair water damage from a burst pipe can be exorbitant, and the hassle of fixing water-damaged walls, ceilings, and floors is the last thing any homeowner wants. By following these simple steps, you can ensure your pipes stay warm and your home stays dry all winter long. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, and investing a little time and effort into protecting your pipes can save you thousands of dollars in the long run. Stay warm and stay safe!


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