100 Days of Useful Homesteading Skills: Day 38 – How to Keep Pipes from Freezing

icicle-1954827When you live off-grid you are often your own carpenter, electrician, and plumber. Especially in the cold winter in the middle of the night.

There are very few professionals that will send someone out to you when you need them most. It is best to get some very excellent books on these topics or take a few basic courses to be well-prepared.

One thing few folks think about when they have lived in the city or have never owned their own property before is winterizing their pipes, including their well, to prevent freezing. Especially if they have never lived in a cold region before.

Frozen pipes are a big problem in and of themselves because they require repair but they can also burst. This can cause flooding and damage to your property.

There are a few things you can do to prevent this inside the house. The easiest of these is to keep the temperature in the house above 50 degrees. Leave the faucets on to drip just slightly, this includes your exterior faucets and the faucets at your wells and pumps (remember to turn them off in the morning or put timers on them so that they turn on and off an hour before sunset and after sunrise). Seal up holes or cracks near pipes with caulk. Keep interior doors open to allow heat to flow throughout the house. Wrap accessible pipes with foam sleeves to keep them insulated.

It is important to winterize your well and pump too, especially if you live in an area where the weather routinely drops below freezing.  Covering your
pipes with foam insulating sleeves will help prevent freezing. In my area, wells and pumps are generally not housed in a well-house but in colder regions, not doing so is asking for trouble. Well-houses provide protection from the elements and heating elements can be added with thermostats attached so that they can switch on in the case of freezing temperatures.

Have you ever had a frozen pipe? What happened and how did you deal with it? Share your experience with your fellow readers.

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