Fight the Freeze: How to Avoid Frozen Pipes in Minnesota This Winter

Frozen Pipes in MinnesotaPicture this: Despite a recent cold snap throughout the state, you’ve decided to venture out for the day or a relaxing weekend away from home…

… Or maybe you’ve realized it’s time to get that inevitable holiday shopping over with and you’re preparing for what will seem like days of battling crowds and long lines.

(You remembered to pack food and water, right?)

In any case, as Minnesotans, we’re usually prepared for extreme winter weather. But when you return home, you’re not prepared for this – a pipe has burst!

Even though we’re used to preparing for cold and frosty conditions, it can be easy to overlook your plumbing and heating systems when you’re “battening down the hatches”.

But trust us, dealing with frozen and burst water pipe repairs are NOT fun for you – or your wallet!

While you can’t change the weather, there are some steps you can take to prepare your home for those ultra-cold spells and avoid frozen pipes in Minnesota all together.

Why do frozen pipes burst?

First, let’s go over what causes your pipes to freeze and subsequently burst in the first place.

It’s fairly simple – your pipes can freeze once the temperature falls below 32 degrees F. But when the temperature STAYS well below freezing (typically around 20 degrees F), that’s when you should be on alert.

Why? Ice expands once frozen, causing a dramatic pressure increase inside the pipes. And if that pressure is extreme enough, your pipes can burst as a result.

So what can you do to avoid a plumbing catastrophe?

Since we all want to avoid having a gushing waterfall in our living rooms, here are some basic steps you can take to avoid frozen pipes all together:

  • Empty and disconnect your garden hoses before winter hits
  • Properly insulate and seal all exterior-facing pipes (e.g. walls, attics and basements)
  • Keep your heat on and above 55 degrees F when you’re away from home
  • Vacation Preparedness: Shut off your water supply and test your sump pump prior to leaving
  • Open up bathroom and kitchen cabinets to allow warm air to circulate around the plumbing
  • Make sure to keep the heating system properly maintained. If you plan on going out of town, a WiFi thermostat with a low temp alert feature can be a lifesaver.

Above all, if you do find that your pipes have frozen and you’re not sure what to do, contact a plumber or heating professional immediately for assistance.

Don’t wait until you have to swim to the phone!