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How to Keep a Sewer Line from Freezing - Homeowners Guide

September 6, 2023

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Asking how to keep a sewer line from freezing is not unusual for homeowners. Frozen plumbing lines risk burst pipes and costly damage. These can also shut down your home’s plumbing, which is very inconvenient!

How to keep a sewer line from freezing:

  • Insulate the pipes
  • Maintain a steady temperature
  • Allow faucets to drip
  • Insulate crawl spaces
  • Maintain sewer lines regularly

These are just a few simple tips that can help keep the plumbing and sewer lines from freezing in your home. For more detail about protecting your property, keep reading! Also, remember to call a professional plumber if you suspect your property needs repairs. Prompt services can prevent plumbing disasters while keeping repair costs as low as possible.

how to keep a sewer line from freezing

How to Keep a Sewer Line From Freezing and Protect Your Plumbing in Wintertime

Preventing a sewer line from freezing avoids blockages and other damage during winter months. Check out some expert tips that can help prevent frozen sewer and plumbing lines in your home:

  • Insulate the sewer line with foam pipe insulation. This helps maintain a consistent temperature and reduces the risk of freezing. Pay particular attention to any exposed sections of the sewer line, such as those running through crawl spaces or unheated areas.
  • Keep your home heated consistently during cold weather to ensure that the temperature in crawl spaces, basements, and other vulnerable areas remains above freezing.
  • Use heat tape specifically designed for plumbing to keep pipes warm in areas where it's challenging to maintain a warm temperature.
  • Seal any gaps, cracks, or openings in the walls, floors, and foundation of your home. Cold air infiltration can affect the temperature of crawl spaces and basements.
  • On extremely cold nights, allow a few faucets (both hot and cold) to drip slightly. This continuous flow of water can help prevent freezing within the sewer line.
  • If your sewer line runs through a crawl space, make sure the space is adequately insulated. This includes insulating the walls, floor, and any exposed pipes.
  • In homes with plumbing fixtures along exterior walls, such as kitchen and bathroom sinks, leave cabinet doors open to allow warm air from the room to reach the pipes.
  • Inspect your sewer line and plumbing system regularly for any signs of leaks or damage. Promptly repair any issues to prevent water from escaping and freezing within the pipe.

Remember that prevention is key when it comes to preventing sewer line freezing. Taking proactive steps before winter sets in can help avoid costly plumbing problems associated with frozen sewer lines.

Why Does My Sewer Pipe Keep Freezing?

Sewer pipes can freeze for several reasons. Understanding the underlying causes can help you take appropriate measures to prevent freezing!

  • Sewer pipes not properly insulated, especially those located in unheated areas like crawl spaces or attics, are more susceptible to freezing. Insulation helps maintain a consistent temperature within the pipe.
  • Sewer pipes exposed to cold outdoor air or drafts are at greater risk of freezing. This can occur if there are gaps, cracks, or openings in the walls, floors, or foundation of your home. These allow cold air to infiltrate the area around the pipes.
  • If water is slow or restricted due to clogs or partial blockages, it can increase the likelihood of freezing. Slow-moving water has more time to cool and freeze within the pipe.
  • Sewer pipes rely on venting to allow air to escape and prevent the buildup of pressure. If vent pipes are blocked or clogged, it can lead to slow drainage and increase the risk of freezing.
  • Sewer pipes located near the exterior walls of a building are more susceptible to cold temperatures. Cold air can penetrate through the walls and affect the temperature of the pipe.
  • Snow can accumulate around the exterior of your home, insulating the ground and making it colder. If sewer lines are buried near the surface, they may be exposed to freezing temperatures.

To prevent sewer pipe freezing, take proactive steps to insulate and protect your sewer pipes. Also, maintain proper heating and ventilation in your home, and address any plumbing issues promptly.

In extremely cold climates, it may be necessary to install heat tape or cable on vulnerable pipes or seal off crawl spaces and basements. If freezing continues to be a problem, consult with a plumber who can assess your situation and recommend a solution.

installing plumbing pipes

What Should a House Be Set at So Pipes Don’t Freeze?

To prevent pipes from freezing during cold weather, maintain a minimum indoor temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Do so especially in areas where pipes are exposed or in unheated spaces like basements and crawl spaces. Also:

  • Ensure that the indoor temperature remains above freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit). This is the temperature at which water begins to freeze. In turn, you want to keep your pipes and the surrounding areas at a temperature that prevents freezing.
  • Pay special attention to areas where pipes are located near exterior walls, in crawl spaces, attics, or any other unheated or poorly insulated spaces. These areas may require extra heating to maintain a temperature above freezing.
  • Properly insulate pipes in vulnerable areas using pipe insulation or heat tape. Insulation helps maintain the temperature of the water inside the pipes and prevents heat loss to the surrounding environment.
  • Seal gaps, cracks, and openings in walls, floors, and the foundation to prevent cold air from infiltrating your home and affecting the temperature of pipes in vulnerable areas.
  • Ensure that your heating system is in good working condition and properly sized for your home. Regular maintenance can help prevent unexpected heating system failures during cold spells.

During extremely cold weather, err on the side of caution and maintain a slightly higher indoor temperature to prevent frozen pipes. The cost of heating is generally much lower than the expense and inconvenience of dealing with burst pipes and water damage!

A Quick Word From Our Crew

Princeton Plumbing Pros is happy to explain how to keep a sewer line from freezing. If you’re in the area, call our Princeton, NJ, plumbing contractors when you need expert services. We provide a full list of repairs and new plumbing installations at affordable prices, so call today!


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