Originally published January 29, 2019, updated February 8, 2021.

The Midwest is no stranger to arctic air masses this time of year, especially the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley regions. This type of weather system brings both bitter cold and wind chills that create dangerous conditions for those in its path. Do you know what to do to prepare for an arctic blast? Are you prepared to prevent frozen pipes in your buildings and structures?

Don’t Wait Any Longer – Begin Preparations for Bitter Cold Now

Now is the time to take preventive measures to avoid frozen pipes in your buildings and structures. Frozen pipes and subsequent water leakage can result in costly water damage and interruption of your business operations. Ideally, you would want to take preventive measures before the winter months and before bitter cold air fronts approach. This includes sealing all exterior cracks, holes, windows and doors to prevent cold air from coming inside; as well as sealing and insulating interior pipe stacks, chases and enclosed spaces – and especially those water pipes that are most vulnerable, near exterior walls.    

If you didn’t get to these preventive measures before winter, it’s not too late to take additional preventive measures. The following steps can be taken during bitter cold temperatures to help prevent your water pipes from freezing and rupturing:

How to Keep Water Pipes from Freezing in the Bitter Cold

7 Tips to Prevent Burst Pipes:

  1. Slow drip. If your water pipes pass through unheated or unprotected enclosed spaces, consider allowing a slow drip from your faucets to reduce the buildup of pressure in the pipes. Even if water in a pipe does freeze, the pressure release from a slow drip may help to reduce the likelihood of a ruptured pipe.
  2. Allow warmer room air to reach enclosed pipes. Where water pipes are vulnerable near exterior walls, open the cabinets under faucets and consider removing basement ceiling tiles to expose these pipes to warmer air from the room. This allows the warmer air from the room to circulate into those enclosed areas and may help to keep those pipes warmer, possibly preventing a ruptured pipe.
  3. Set the thermostat to at least 55 degrees. Maintain a minimum interior building temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Periodically check on any unoccupied buildings or spaces for signs of low interior temperatures or ruptured pipes.
  4. Don’t allow inside temperatures to fluctuate. Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during day and night.
  5. Insulate exterior spigots. Protect outdoor spigots with insulating domes or other coverings to reduce the likelihood of those water pipes freezing and rupturing. Disconnect all exterior hoses from outdoor spigots. 
  6. Monitor space heater use. As always, use extreme caution and constant supervision with space heaters.
  7. Shut off water immediately if you notice a leak. If you notice any water leakage, immediately shut off the system control valves that lead to any leaking pipes, to reduce water damage and business interruptions. Immediately contact a licensed and qualified plumber to assess the situation to prevent further damage and to make necessary repairs

Learn more about protecting your business in our Winter Defense blog series.

At Society Insurance we are committed to providing meaningful protection for your business. That’s why Society policyholders gain the collaborative and consultative partnership of our risk control experts and access to exclusive safety resources developed to keep your workplace safe and profitable. Contact your local Society Insurance agent to discuss the details that make the biggest difference for your unique operation.