How to Prevent Pipes from Freezing at your Cabin

by Tanya Mayer


When water turns into ice, it expands but the pipes containing them don’t expand when the temperature drops. This puts your frozen pipe at the risk of bursting. Fortunately, you don’t have to allow your pipes to get damaged during winter. You can keep the pipes from bursting with the following tips.


Wrap pipes with insulating material
Special rubber insulation has been designed to keep pipes from freezing. Use them to wrap your pipes. Ensure that there are no gaps between the pipe insulation rubber. Secure the ends of the insulation strips with duct tape and keep them dry as you wrap them around your pipes. To increase the flow of warm air to the pipes, you should open up all cabinets that have plumbing at night when the ambient temperature drops.


Insulate pipes with heater tapes
Heater tapes can keep your pipes warm throughout the day and night. Buy a UL-certified tape that has a thermostat. UL-endorsed tapes have been tested for safety and the thermostat will stop the tape from getting too hot. You can run the tape along the length of the pipe if you don’t want to wrap it around it. Follow the instructions in the user’s manual when you are installing the tape. If you don’t want to use heater tapes, you can set up a heated reflector lamp in an enclosure and ensure that lights are on at night.

Keep your pipes dry
If you are not going to be using your cabin in the winter, you should drain your water pipes to prevent them from freezing. You can also do this at night if you feel that the temperature could drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. To do this, you need to locate the water main cut-off valve and have a water cut-off key handy. You can find the main supply valve close to the meter at the side street outside your home. Another main supply valve will also be located near the outside wall in a box underground. In very cold climates, however, this valve is located in the basement. After you locate this valve, follow these steps to drain your pipes:

  •  Open all the faucets in your cabin
  •  Turn the main supply valve off
  • Ensure the water stops flowing out of the faucets within a few minutes
  • If water keeps flowing, return to the shut off valve and tighten it.
  • Call your plumber if you can’t turn it off successfully.

Heat up your drain lines
Place rubber insulation around your drain pipes the same way you did around the water pipes. Make sure you pay close attention to the sinks in your kitchen and bathroom. On very cold days, you can direct a heat lamp at your drain P-trap.

Close up the gaps around your pipes
Broken insulation can allow cold air to get to your pipes and make water freeze. So fill all the cracks or gaps around the pipes. Look around all the areas where you have your plumbing. Close any cracks or gaps using caulk. This will prevent cold air from coming into your home to reduce the temperature of water in your pipes.

Use a RedyTemp to control pipe water temperature
This gadget monitors the temperature of the water in your pipes and regulates it. To use it, you need to:

  • Disconnect an end of the supply lines to your faucet
  • Attach it to the device
  • Connect the supply lines that came with the RedyTemp machine
  • Plug the unit into your mains power supply
  • Set the temperature you want.
  • Check the water that comes through the cold water faucet
  • Adjust the temperature until you have the desired temperature.

During the warm months you can lower the temperature to reduce your electricity bill.

Regulate your thermostat
Adjust your cabin thermostat to about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, your water should be able to flow freely without freezing since  it is above the freezing point. Setting your thermostat appropriately will also improve the movement of warm air to the places where pipes are located behind your walls, in your basement, or attic.

To prevent your pipes from freezing, you need to keep them warm. You can apply the tips provided here to insulate them. When you are leaving your cabin for a long time, it is best to keep the pipes empty by shutting off your main supply valve.


Tanya Mayer is a blogger from Brisbane, Australia. She is interested in writing on various topics relating to family, home and home improvement.

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